Lebanon's trash crisis has been a challenge and a hindrance for Lebanese politicians for the past few years, which manifested in an unfavorable garbage scene and pollution across the country. However, while this crisis has epitomized the failures of every Lebanese politician, it has also unveiled the genius and vision of Ziad Abi Chaker, CEO of Cedar Environmental, whose endeavors reflect and prove the rewarding potential of investing time and effort in efficient recycling for a “greener" Lebanon.
Cedar Environmental is an environmental and industrial engineering organization founded by Ziad Abi Chaker. Its aim is to establish recycling plants to produce organic fertilizers leaving no waste material to landfill level. This initiative was forged following Abi chaker's return from the USA in 1996. In 1999, he took upon himself to pursue a counter path in treating waste in Lebanon. Instead of dealing with the recycling process on a macro level, he deconstructed the process by establishing micro Municipal Recycling Facilities to operate in different areas around the city.
Composting is surely not the sole specialty of Cedar Environmental as Chaker’s vision to optimize the potential of a landfill has gone one, or maybe many steps ahead, to the level of zero waste. A team of engineers and four years of dedicated research have yielded a new technology that transforms plastic bags into solid panels, ECO-BOARDS, which can replace wooden and steel panels.
Such dedication to a greener future did not go unseen. This revolutionary technology has qualified Abi Chaker and his team to claim the 2013 International Energy Globe Award. His design linking municipal waste management to agriculture has also qualified him to receive the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, ASAE. He was awarded the Ford Motor Company Environmental & Conservation for the Middle East in 2001. The Synergos Institute in New York city named Abi Chaker Arab World Social Innovator. In February 2011, he was awarded the Green Future Leadership Award by the World CSR Congress. In April 2014, he was named in the fourth annual GOOD 100 list of global citizens and creative changemakers by the US based publication GOOD magazine.
Abi Chaker's green success story does not end here as in 2013 he launched GGRIL, Green Glass Recycling Initiative for Lebanon. This project aims to divert tons of glass from the landfills and revive the almost fading skills and art of glassblowers. This year witnessed the success of this initiative as 225 tons of glass were sent to the glassblowers to be recycled into functional art pieces instead of ending up in the already exhausted Naameh landfill. The GGRIL goal was achieved in collaboration with Khalifeh Brorhers who have been prominent in this business and art for decades. The family today reclaims a legacy while countering the glass flow in landfills. In June 2018, GGRIL celebrated at Zouk Michael’s old souk festival a “milestone of 1 million bottles diverted from the landfills.”
Amid the mass failures of political figures in the Lebanese government for years, the individual successes of many visionary and authentic citizens, such as Ziad Abi Chaker, Ayad Nasser and many others, yield a breath of hope for the Lebanese people. A government marked by corruption and personal interests remains light years away from the most modest of achievements. Despite this frustrating reality, the refined minds and noble endeavors of such remarkable individuals put to shame the rotten performance of each and every politician in the Lebanese decadent government.