RECOCYLE: Shaping Lebanon’s Sustainable Future 

Opportunities often arise from addressing pressing needs and this is especially true in the waste management field. In most rural areas in Lebanon, the lack of a robust waste management system has spurred community-based initiatives to act. One initiative in this regard is RECOCYLE. We had the privilege of discussing this initiative with its dedicated team: Walid Sayfeddin, Maryana Chammout, and Ghoson Olab.  

RECOCYLE was one of the 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: What can you tell us about RECOCYCLE? 

A: RECOCYLE, nestled in the Rachays Caza region of Lebanon provides a comprehensive waste management solution to its community. This entails the collection of pre-sorted waste from households and businesses which is then transported to the main facility for further sorting and compacting. We then sell this compressed waste to factories, so they recycle it. 

Q: Why did you choose to go on this endeavor? 

A: We decided to work on this solution because of the urgent need for sustainable waste management in Lebanon and particularly in Rachaya. Additionally, we also wanted to address the environmental pollution and health risks that are associated with improper waste disposal practices. 

Q: How did your journey with RECOCYLE begin? 

A: We initiated the project by researching local waste management practices and establishing partnerships with key community stakeholders.  Our commitment to sustainability drove the launch of this project with the main purpose of making a positive impact on waste management and environmental conservation efforts in Lebanon.

Q: How does your solution work? 

A: Recocycle is a complete waste management solution that integrates waste collection, sorting, awareness campaigns, and recycling in a sustainable and effective manner. We actively promote households and businesses in the Rachaya Caza region (comprising 34 towns) to sort their waste and bring it to the nearby collection center. From there, we manage the collection and transportation to our main facility.  

At this stage, the waste undergoes additional sorting, and pressing, and is prepared for sale to factories that can repurpose it into new products. This process not only reduces landfill waste but also promotes the recycling industry. Additionally, we run awareness campaigns to educate the public about the importance of waste sorting and recycling while offering them incentives to encourage active participation. 

Q: How does your solution differ from the other initiatives? 

A: Our solution stands out due to the comprehensive approach that covers waste collection, sorting, recycling, and public education. This integrated model allows us to address the entire lifecycle of waste management, from collection to sustainable disposal. What sets us apart is also the extensive experience of our team that plays a significant role in the way we operate. Moreover, we prioritize collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders such as local communities, schools, universities, and factories that receive the recycled materials. This way, we are benefiting not only the environment, but also the well-being of our local communities.  

At the core of our mission is our commitment to sustainability and environmental protection which impacts every aspect of our business. In the waste management sector, our approach aligns with the growing focus on sustainability and efficient practices. This is particularly relevant to Lebanon as it addresses the country’s waste management challenges, supports the economy by repurposing waste materials for factories, and promotes a wider shift towards sustainable practices through our awareness campaigns.  

Q: What are some of the challenges that you have encountered and how did you overcome them? 

A: We encountered 3 main challenges throughout our journey. First, there was a lack of awareness and education about proper waste management and recycling within the communities. This is why we increased our awareness sessions through community outreach and educational campaigns. Second, we lacked the infrastructure and logistical requirements to be able to operate properly and efficiently. We addressed this by investing in appropriate equipment and establishing partnerships with local authorities. Lastly, our financial sustainability was at risk due to the high investment and operational costs. This prompted us to start exploring different revenue models such as charging service fees, selling recyclables, and seeking funding opportunities.  

Q: Is there anything along the way that you wish you could have done differently? Was there a moment when you considered giving up on the project? 

A: Our belief in the mission coupled with the support from our team, the community, and the different stakeholders were crucial in overcoming the challenges and thus, reinforcing our willingness to keep going. However, looking back, we recognize the importance of conducting a more thorough market analysis and a feasibility study prior to launching our startup.  

Q: What’s next for RECOCYLE? 

A: We have already secured a partnership with YallaReturn and letters of intent from municipalities. The next step for us is to scale our operations and geographic coverage by expanding to the neighboring regions. We also would like to create our own website and application, strengthen our partnerships and collaborations, and come up with more circular economy initiatives.  

Q: What made you decide to apply to the USAID DAWERR Innovation Challenge and how did you benefit from it? 

A: We chose to participate in this program because we knew that we would gain valuable knowledge, skills, and resources that would help us for the establishment and the growth of our startup. The mentorship and the guidance that were provided by the experts were invaluable to us. The support from USAID played a pivotal role in refining our business strategy, empowering us to make informed decisions, and surmounting challenges along our journey. Additionally, the networking opportunities with potential investors and collaborators and the access to funding and resources accelerated our business growth. It was within the program that we achieved significant milestones including securing part of our funding, developing our Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and forging strategic partnerships, all of which helped us advance to the next phase of our operations.  

Q: What is the significance of such programs like the DAWERR Clearinghouse for the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem? 

A: These programs are vital for Lebanese startups because they provide them not only with funding but also with business support, networking opportunities, and the chance to turn their ideas into real businesses.  

Q: What advice would you provide future entrepreneurs who are thinking of endeavoring in the solid waste management journey? 

A: Thorough market research is paramount – we cannot emphasize this enough.  It’s important to understand the industry and market landscape before you start working on your product or service development. You also need to build strong partnerships with stakeholders and municipalities, focus on education and awareness initiatives, embrace innovation and technology adoption, and seek financial support be it through grants or investors. But most importantly, don’t give up on your idea or dream.  

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.

Never miss a beat

Loved what you read? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and we’ll send you weekly stories and coverages to keep you inspired to start, grow and scale.