Driving Change: Lebanon Waste Management’s Drive to Educate Youth about Recycling 

Lebanon, a country known for its resilience amidst challenges has been struggling with a pressing environmental issue – solid waste management challenge. With a generation of around 2.7M tonnes/year of municipal solid waste according to a 2022 report published by the United Nations Development Programme, it’s imperative to address this concern. 

The responsibility for waste collection lies primarily with municipalities accounting for 46% according to a 2021 UN-Habitat Lebanon & ESCWA report.  Effective waste management is crucial for public health and environmental preservation, and it requires collective effort from both municipalities and communities. 

This is why initiatives such as DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA by Lebanon Waste Management play a critical role in educating communities and youth about the importance of recycling and its impact on our environment. 

In an insightful interview with Pierre Baakini, Founder & CEO of Lebanon Waste Management, we discussed their innovative approach to educating youth about the importance of recycling in a fun and creative way.  

It is important to note that Lebanon Waste Management is among six winning startups to join the first phase of the DAWERR Innovation Challenge 2023, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Berytech.

  Q: How did you come up with the idea for DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA? 

A: In 2019, We founded Lebanon Waste Management, a specialized sorting facility dedicated to processing dry solid waste and exporting or selling recyclables. We recently launched Drive-Throw, a franchisable business model where individuals can drive to our locations to sell their recyclables from their cars. In just one year and with only two points of sale, we successfully collected 550 tons of waste, providing compensation of $10,000.  

We noticed that most of our clients were schools. Since February 2022, we have hosted 700 students from 48 different schools. Over 20 schools have returned bringing various groups of students to attend educational sessions. That’s when we realized how little students knew about the importance and the proper ways of recycling.  how important it is to start educating them from a young age. This is how the DRIVE THROW El BOSTA initiative came to light. In March 2023, in collaboration with the Ministries of Environment, Culture, and Industry, alongside esteemed partners like PEPSICO, IPT, and ALMAZA, we launched this initiative. Through proactive early education, we actively contribute to reshaping children’s attitudes and behaviors towards waste, shaping a sustainable future. 

Q: Can you tell us about DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA and how it’s different from other similar initiatives? 

A: At Lebanon Waste Management, we conceptualized DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA as an innovative initiative. It involves converting a bus into a compact sorting facility, allowing us to conduct engaging awareness sessions at schools, universities, and events. These activities are tailored to specific age groups and encompass eco-friendly games, activities, and even prizes, providing participants with hands-on experience in waste sorting. 

 What sets us apart is our commitment beyond these sessions. After delivering the educational sessions, we activated our TRASH TO CASH program. Through this program, we supply the establishments with basic sorting bins to encourage them to continue sorting. We then purchase the sorted waste (trash) through regularly scheduled pick-ups. In case the establishments are not located within our region of operation, we collaborate with partner entities across Lebanon to ensure the recycling cycle continues seamlessly. 

Q: What were the main challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them? 

A: One of the main challenges that we faced was securing the necessary funds and resources for the initial setup and operation of DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA. To address this challenge, we explored various avenues, including seeking grants and sponsorships from eco-friendly organizations and using crowdfunding platforms to get support. Moreover, we leveraged social media and online platforms to raise awareness and attract potential donors and partners. Furthermore, we engaged in networking within the environmental and educational sectors, connecting with like-minded individuals and organizations eager to support our cause. 

Q: What is one thing that you would have done differently? 

A: In retrospect, conducting more thorough market research and needs assessment before launching our project could have been beneficial This would have helped us better understand the specific waste management needs and preferences of schools, and universities, across various regions in Lebanon. 

Q: Was there a moment when you thought about giving up, and what motivated you to keep going? 

A: We had many moments of doubt and frustration, especially when we were facing financial and logistical challenges. What ultimately kept us going was our unwavering commitment to our mission and the positive impact that we were creating. Witnessing the enthusiasm and engagement of students and communities we reached out to reminded us of the importance of our work. We also sought support and encouragement from mentors and advisors in the environmental and entrepreneurship fields, which motivated us to continue. 

Q: What are some of the key success factors that have contributed to the growth of your project? 

A: Several key success factors have contributed to the growth of our project: 

  • Engaging and interactive educational sessions tailored to different age groups. 
  • Offering hands-on learning experiences within the mobile sorting facility. 
  • A sustainable waste collection and recycling program (TRASH TO CASH). 
  • Strong partnerships and contacts throughout Lebanon to overcome logistical challenges. 
  • Creative and eco-friendly activities and games at events to engage the community. 
  • A passionate and dedicated team that is committed to our mission. 

Q: What’s next for DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA? 

A: Our long-term goals include expanding the reach and impact of DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA across Lebanon and potentially into neighboring regions. We aim to establish sustainable partnerships with schools, universities, municipalities, and eco-conscious organizations to continue educating youth about waste management and sustainability. Additionally, we want to scale up our TRASH TO CASH program to make it even more effective in promoting waste sorting and recycling in communities. 

Q: Why did you apply to the USAID DAWERR Innovation Challenge, and what were the key benefits you gained from it? 

A: We applied to the program because we recognized the need for guidance, support, and resources to help us grow and scale our DRIVE THROW EL BOSTA project. Our primary goal in applying to the program was to gain access to mentorship, funding opportunities, and a supportive entrepreneurial community that could help us refine our business model and expand our impact.  

What we benefited the most were the mentorship and networking opportunities. Experienced mentors offered insights into various aspects of our project, from business development to marketing and sustainability strategies. Through the USAID support, we received invaluable mentorship and networking opportunities. It also allowed us to exchange ideas with other startups and industry professionals. DAWERR Innovation Challenge was instrumental in our growth. Networking with other startups and industry professionals also allowed us to exchange ideas and learn from the experiences of others in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  

Q: What advice would you give to other startups, especially in the environmental sector? 


  • Start with a clear and well-defined mission and purpose. 
  • Understand your target audience and tailor your approach accordingly. 
  • Build a strong network of supporters, mentors, and partners within the environmental and education sectors. Collaboration and knowledge sharing is invaluable. 
  • Be resilient and adaptable. Entrepreneurship in the environmental field can be challenging, but persistence and the ability to pivot when necessary are crucial. 
  • Emphasize the social and environmental impact of your project. Highlighting the positive changes your venture brings to communities and the planet can help attract support and funding. 
  • Continuously measure and communicate your impact. Collect data on the educational outcomes and waste reduction achieved by your project and use this information to demonstrate your effectiveness to stakeholders and donors. 


Picture of Raghid Jarrah

Raghid Jarrah

Raghid Jarrah joined Berytech in July 2021 and is currently a Communication and Outreach Coordinator. He supports the team on various ongoing projects such as ARYAF, DAWERR, REAF, SAFI, WE4F, and others.

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