Credit: Recycle Beirut
Credit: Recycle Beirut

Recycle Beirut is a social enterprise aiming to find a single solution to the refuse and refugee crises in Lebanon. It has recently launched a new initiative to renovate refugee housing using recycled material.

"We wanted a combination between social and environmental business so we came up with this idea," explain the people in charge of the project in a video presentation. "What people don't realize is that the waste crisis in Lebanon was a great opportunity to start new businesses and to create a sustainable and green job opportunities."

The project includes collecting waste produced by homes, companies and schools. This material is then processed and the recyclable waste sent to Lebanese firms for the creation of new products. The NGO has decided to employee refugees in Lebanon to do this work.

"We thought why not put refugees to work? By cleaning the country they can build a green economy that will create jobs for Syrians and Lebanese alike," say the NGO directors on their website. 

A new project to improve refugees' lives

One of the people involved in the project is Haela Kellawi, a Syrian refugee living in Beirut who fled from Damascus with her children. UNHCR says that until now Halela has lived in a poorly ventilated and illuminated home with an inadequate power supply.

Recycle Beirut decided to start from her home to launch its pilot project to improve refugees' living conditions. "She had flooding, rats, cockroaches. She didn't have proper drainage and electricity, so we felt like this was very critical to address, and we started with her," Aline Rad, an architect with Recycle Beirut, told the UN agency.

"The first thing that we did was to create windows, let the sun in, put in some plants, and restore natural ventilation. Then we moved on to using recycled material for the renovation of the house," she added.

The NGO rewired the property and fitted new pipes and furniture made from recycled materials. In total, 20 people including Lebanese and foreigners worked on the project. "I am over the moon. I am very happy because I have a healthy house now and it has changed the children's mood", says Haela.

In future, Recycle Beirut hopes to expand the pilot scheme to enable growing numbers of Lebanese and refugees to live in safe and comfortable homes.

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