Lebanon’s Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayeb has announced the country’s cabinet has reached a deal on ending the trash crisis that has brought life in the capital Beirut to a standstill.
"Tonight the cabinet approved a path out of the crisis," Shehayeb said, six hours after ministers came together for an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
The shutting down in July of the capital's main landfill site Naameh, which only had the capacity to receive 2 million tons of waste but had instead taken in over 15 million tons, caused huge amounts of rubbish to mount across Beirut.
Garbage has since been been piling up in the streets, triggering anti-government protests and raising health concerns. Worries were also growing over contamination should the crisis linger into the upcoming rainy season.
Protests organised by the “You Stink” movement brought thousands from all walks of life onto the streets of Beirut demanding the government solve the problem immediately.
Despite a major sandstorm currently hitting the Lebanese capital, protesters came out again on Wednesday to demonstrate their anger. The cars of politicians were pelted with eggs by protesters as they turned up and left the meeting at the parliament building.
After the meeting, Shehayeb said the cabinet had agreed to some of the demands of the protesters.
From now on, waste management will be localised with municipalities taking more responsibility, Shehayeb said.
The Naameh landfill will be reopened temporarily for one week in order to dispose of trash already piled up on the streets of Beirut while two existing sites are transformed into sanitary landfills that can store waste for over a year.
Another landfill outside Beirut and a waste treatment plant in southern Sidon will also be used to help deal with the problem.
Although activists have not officially responded to the plans, Shehayeb insisted they were consulted when plans were being drawn up.