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Setting a mark for resource efficiency in Lebanon

Linking profitability with better environmental returns is the goal of the EU funded MED TEST II project in Lebanon. Together with local partners, impressive results from the project could be presented to local industries and ministers on a national event, showing the many benefits of a resource efficient production for Lebanon.
Published on Feb 14, 2018

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Imagine your business receives product return making up 856,000 euros per year and you are not even aware of it. For the MALCO Group, a Lebanese manufacturer of snacks and bread, this figure was a reality. Moreover, the product losses did not only waste a considerate amount of money and production capacities, but also valuable resource losses of raw material, water, and energy.

”More than 20 million euros/year is spent on resource input in the production out of which 2 million euros meet our energy demand of 26,500 MWh. To reduce this was one of the main drivers for joining the MED TEST II program - ensuring the sustainability of our business operations.”

Marwan El Koussa, Owner Malco Group

Cases, like the one from the MALCO group, were one of many that were presented on the final national dissemination of the MED TEST II project on the 30th January in Beirut. UNIDO together with the local partner of the project, the Industrial Research Institute, presented the results for project stakeholders such as the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Industry and the delegation of the European Union to Lebanon.

Since 2015, the EU funded SwitchMed program has through the UNIDO led MED TEST II project demonstrated the business case of a resource efficient and cleaner production in 8 companies from the food industry sector in Lebanon. The results from the project are very promising, both for the companies, but also for the national economy as the project has managed to identify saving opportunities for water and energy, two crucial resources that are very much needed in Lebanon. 

“During the implementation of the programme, the efficient use of resources proved to be an important aspect for the Lebanese government, who took the green economy agenda as a way forward.“ 

Jose Luis Vinuesa Santamaria, Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon

On the whole,  local partners could, together with UNIDO, identify investment opportunities that will save valuable resources yielding to a value of 1.6 million euros in annual economic savings for the 8 participating companies. An extraordinary outcome of the MED TEST II project in Lebanon was the circumstance that all companies invested cumulatively 120,000 euro in metering systems for monitoring energy and water consumption in their processes. This has enabled them to give the old idiom -  “what gets measured gets managed” – a new value for their businesses. 

“Thanks to MED TEST II project, we can say that there has been a quantum leap in awareness among the staff concerning resources use efficiency. The information system, installed at the start of the project, played a major role in this transformation because it has translated vague concepts and statements into real-world numbers.” 

Marwan El Koussa, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Owner MALCO group

Lowering costs and at the same time raising the environmental standards, is not only crucial to the economic value and reduced resource consumption of businesses in Lebanon, it is also a matter of national interest as it gives businesses a competitive advantage to others in the region while ensuring resources to other parts of the society. For this reason, government officials, together with UNIDO and local partners have developed a roadmap for resource efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) for Lebanon.

The roadmap, which also was presented at the national event, gives recommendations how Lebanon could encourage a sector-wide adoption of RECP practices throughout the industry in Lebanon. For instance could existing financing incentives also address investments that are related to energy and environmental management process solutions, as it was demonstrated in the MED TEST II project. This would move Lebanon beyond the predominant scheme of applying “end-of-pipe” solutions in order to reach environmental compliance and instead tap in on the significant potential that resource efficiency offers businesses and the society.