• In the basement of a building in Jounieh, north of Beirut, some end-of-life electronic devices are piled on the ground, while others are neatly packaged and placed on shelves.
  • The basement is the nonprofit Ecoserv’s headquarters, where electronic waste treatment, a long and complex process that includes dismantling, packaging and sending waste to recycling plants, is taken very seriously.
  • Two specialized technicians, equipped with masks and gloves, work carefully to sort the multiple components of objects such as computers and radios — an essential step towards recycling e-waste.
  • According to a 2017 United Nations University report, the world generated 44.7 million tonnes of electrical and electronic waste in 2016, or 6.1 kg per person per year — equal to the weight of nearly 4,500 Eiffel towers.
  • This volume is expected to increase to 52.2 million tonnes by 2021 (6.8 kg per capita). Only 20 percent of this waste gets collected and recycled, according to the report.
  • As with all other types of waste, Lebanon’s management of used electronic devices is sketchy at best: they end up in nature, in landfills, or in the hands of unskilled people.
  • To recover metal and plastic, these people burn used appliances or dismantle them higgledy-piggledy, risking generating toxic pollution, particularly by heavy metals and treated plastics that are particularly dangerous when they contaminate soil, water or air.