The solid waste treatment facility conceived by studioazue for Oxfam with funds granted by DFATD Canada (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) is a pilot project designed to be temporary, replicable and transferable, to serve the Syrian refugees camps located in the Beqaa Valley (Lebanon). The facility has been constructed using 17 freight containers ISO standard as structural modules, assembled to create a space of approximately 375 square meters to accommodate two separate waste treatment cycles.
The absence of foundations gives the opportunity to set up rapidly the facility in line with the requirements of any emergency response, as well as it prevents the degradation of agricultural land. Once the emergency situation will be over, the building can be easily decommissioned, dismantled and removed. The building envelop matches the content: it valorises second hand containers making new use of them, hence translating into an architectural space the end-of-waste concept.
The growing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the associated adverse impacts on the environment and the economy are causing social conflicts between the displaced and the hosting community. The provision of a solid waste treatment facility to serve the camp, contributes on one side to lessen the environmental degradation, on the other to create new income opportunities for the refugees.
The conceived idea is the result of an informed intuition, catalyst of communities (refugees and hosting) needs and an innovative interpretation of informal solutions put in place by refugees. Far to be linear, the design process consisted in networking assets and opportunities identified through an attentive context analysis and the direct involvement of the community.
The Business Strategy which should lead to the self-sustainability of the facility consists in 5 phases:
1st phase – Normal daily operation. It should culminate in the establishment of a business sound management body (cooperative or company), preferably a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Local/National Authorities.
2nd phase – organic treatment improvement. The aim is to produce compost, collecting also agricultural waste. The compost with high quality and enriched with EM and/or NPK can be sold at 300/350 USD/t (“Marketing Study about Organic Fertilizer in Lebanon and MENA regions” – “studioazue”, 2012-)
3rd phase – End of Waste concept. Objects dumped as waste if repaired can be returned to their use or converted into something different. Increasing the value up to 1000% (i.e. a broken teapot can be sold as metal or repaired or become a new object like a lamp and gain value). A dedicated space has been designed and will be equipped with proper machineries to become a workshop.
4th phase – plastic bags and textile treatment. The plastic bags represent approximately the 10% and the textile the 12% of the waste stream. A specific study has been conducted concerning the possibility to recycle them into insulation panels to be used in the construction sector or in the shelter unit of Syrian refugees.
5th phase – biogas system. A Biogas Digester could be implemented to produce electricity and heat from the organic fraction of the MSW. The digester could be done using an extra gas-tightened freight container.
Management and monitoring
After the first years of commissioning management by Oxfam NGO, the Facility is meant to be managed by an association/cooperative of Syrian refugees and Lebanese people with a PPP agreement with Ghazzeh municipality which will be only monitoring the operational.
Once the above listed 5 phases will be successfully applied, the facility will be led toward the self- sustainability. Reached this point, the temporary Solid Waste Facility concept/model might be replicated by International Organizations in similar context of protracted post-emergency humanitarian crisis. The economical study points out how the sustainability is linked to the improvement of each recycling activities and to potential additional ones.