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1. What is MSW?

MSW stands for Municipal Solid Waste.

Municipal solid waste is simply: Garbage or trash that we throw away. It consists of everyday discarded items such as product packaging, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries.  This garbage or trash includes commercial and residential wastes generated in municipal areas. 


2. What can Waste be categorized?  

  • Municipal Solid Waste
  • Hospital Waste
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Industrial Waste
  • Wastewater    


3. What is meant by Waste Management?   

Waste Management is the collection, transport, processing or disposal of waste materials, usually ones produced by human activity, in an effort to reduce their effect on human health.  The most significant trend in Waste Management has been to reduce waste materials' effect on the environment and to recover resources from them.


4. What can you do to minimize waste?  

Produce Less Waste by Practicing the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle  

Reduce means consuming and throwing away less. Source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, so it is the most preferred method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment.   

Reusing items - by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups - also reduces waste. Reusing products, when possible, is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.  

Recycling means to reuse a material that would otherwise be considered waste. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. In addition, it generates a host of environmental, financial, and social benefits. Materials like glass, metal, plastics, and paper are collected, separated and processed into new materials or products. Recycling is one of the best environmental success stories of the late 20th century.


5. What happens to your garbage bag once it's dumped in the bin?

When you throw out your garbage, chances are it ends up in a landfill. Most of the garbage you've sent to landfills in your lifetime is still there. It doesn't go "away" and it doesn't disappear.


6. What is leachate?

Near or under each garbage container you can spot a black deposit, sometimes overlaid by a white powdery material.  This deposit is called leachate.  Leachate is a liquid, mostly water, which seeps out from the base of landfilled waste or composting material. 

The risks from waste leachate are due to pathogenic micro-organisms and toxic substances that might be present in it. Leachate may contain high levels of organic and inorganic pollutants such as ammonia and heavy metals. This in turn, can pollute ground and groundwater when found around landfills.  As for leachate found near and under garbage bins, it can be carried to our homes with our shoes.

Leachate collection and treatment system is crucial in Waste Management.  Groundwater contaminating discharges are not permissible in many countries, including Europe under EU Directives.


7. What are some health threats caused due to open waste containers?  

Public health problems may result due to improper waste disposal when infections and diseases spread from open containers into the general public

While organic domestic waste fermenting creates microbial pathogens and releasing a bad odor, uncollected wastes often end up in street drains, causing blockages which result in flooding and unsanitary conditions.  


8. What is the relationship between MSW & Global Warming?  

Among the efforts to slow the potential for climate change are measures to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from energy use, decrease emissions of methane (CH4) and other non-carbon dioxide GHGs, and promote long-term storage of carbon in forests and soil. Management options for MSW provide many opportunities to affect these processes, directly or indirectly.  For many wastes, the materials in MSW represent what is left over after a long series of steps:

  • Extraction and processing of raw materials;
  • manufacture of products;
  • Transportation of materials and products to markets;
  • Use by consumers; and
  • Waste management  

Virtually every step along this “life cycle” impacts GHG emissions. Waste management decisions can reduce GHGs by affecting one or more of the following  

  • Energy consumption (specifically, combustion of fossil fuels) associated with making, transporting, using, and disposing the product or material that becomes a waste.
  • Non-energy-related manufacturing emissions, such as the CO2 released when limestone is converted to lime (which is needed for use in aluminum and steel manufacturing).
  • CH4 emissions from landfills where the waste is disposed  

These mechanisms add GHGs to the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.  


9. What is meant by Environmental Sustainable Development?  

The essence of this form of development is a stable relationship (balance) between human activities and the natural world.

By definition, then, sustainable development is development that takes the impact on the environment into account and tries to minimize environmental damage.  Development may meet our needs in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with the future as well as present needs of today as long as it does not compromise the needs of future generations to meet their own needs  


10. How long does it take for waste to biodegrade?  

Paper: 10-30 days

Organic waste: 2-3 weeks

Cotton cloth: 2-5 months

Woolen items: 1 year

Wood: 10-15 years

Aluminum tins and cans: 100-500 years

Plastic bags: 1 million year

Glass bottles: UNDETERMINED  


11. Why should we choose organic foods?  

There are at least 7 reasons to go organic:

  1. Organic produce is not covered in a cocktail of poisonous chemicals. Of the 28 most commonly used pesticides, at least 23 are known to cause cancer.
  2. Fresh organic produce contains on average 50% more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micro-nutrients than intensively farmed produce (including Vitamin C, magnesium, and phosphorous).
  3. Going organic is the only practical way to avoid eating genetically modified (GM) food.
  4. Organic produce simply tastes so much better. Fruit and vegetables full of juice and flavor.
  5. Organic farms helps protect our air, soil, water and food supply from potentially toxic chemicals and other pollutants, it also support and nurture our beautiful and diverse wildlife.
  6. Organic farming conserves natural resources by recycling natural materials.
  7. Organic farming encourages an abundance of species living in balanced, harmonious ecosystems.


12. How does one obtain organic certification in Lebanon?

Some farmers have received a certificate from Qualite France, others from the Instituto Mediteraneo di Certificazione or organizations from other countries.

In a growing organic food market, the lack of a unified, reliable certificate is an increasing problem, not only for Lebanese consumers.

Without a proper certificate, Lebanese farmers cannot export their goods to Europe, North America or Japan, where more and more consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic products.

Recently, “Libancert” a Lebanese agency to provide organic certification services had been initiated under the roof of the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 2004 and has been recently approved by The Lebanese Standards Institution (Libnor)  

Green Line has been working on the certificate since 2001, in cooperation with the German governmental development agency GTZ, World Vision, AUB's organic food project Healthy Basket, and the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Based on European Union standards and a Tunisian certificate, Libancert will qualify fresh and processed organic crop products, livestock and livestock products and feedstuff. 

Certifying organizations not only check if a farmer produces pesticide-free foods, but they also make sure that he probes the soil to ensure that no pesticides or other pollutants are present. As such, a farmer may cultivate his land naturally, but if his fields are located next to a highway - where oil runoff and other pollutants are present - he may not be able to get his produce certified as organic.  

The set up of an independent Lebanese certification agency aims at offering a cost-efficient and credi¬ble inspection and certification for organic products to farmers, processors and traders of all sizes. Doing so, their access to export and domestic markets should be facilitated. Furthermore, Lebanese consumers will be protected from bogus organic products which should increase the credibility on the domestic market  


13. What can your Government do?  

The government can play an important role in establishing a policy environment that supports good Waste Management practices at the local level by:  

  • Enabling legislation to protect public health, the environment and ensure safe handling practices
  • Setting regulations and standards such as permits, licenses, inspections for landfills, emissions from incinerators, etc.
  • Enforcing  financial and criminal penalties
  • Planning Waste Management  with inclusion of recycling and waste reduction targets
  • Support and strengthen market incentives for recycling & organic farming
  • Privatizing the Waste Management sector   


14. What do investors need to know about MSW?

Business Opportunities for Investment in Municipal Waste Management lies in Private Finance Initiative.

Waste management is an area in which spending has grown and is set to continue to grow significantly in the coming years. This is being reflected in the extent to which waste is being raised up the political international agenda. This growth in demand needs to be mirrored by development of the private sector capacity, supported by increases in bidder resources.  

MSW rewards community, environment and investors. MSW creates job vacancies, eliminates environment threats, as well as unlimited opportunities for growth.



Sustainable Environmental Development