Beirut’s rubble finds home

It was one of the largest known non-nuclear explosions ever to have hit any city. An otherwise dull evening of August 4, 2020, turned the world upside down for people in Beirut. A large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut in the capital city of Lebanon exploded, leaving 218 dead, 7,000 injured and 300,000 people homeless. The property damage was estimated at US$15 billion.

In a few seconds, Beirut was submerged in a mountain of broken glasses and crumbled bricks. The waste was estimated to weigh at around 400,000 tons. It led Mohamed Daoud, founder and CEO of Development Inc, who along with the consortium of organisations, decided to rebuild the city. With the help of experts from American University of Beirut, financial aid from UN Habitat and companies like Nestle, Diageo, Spinneys and PepsiCo, Development Inc set out to segregate waste.The estimated cost for the project was around 3.6 million USD, much lower than what other options would have entailed.

The materials were broken down, mixed and upcycled into panels of a composite material called ROGP — rejects of glass and plastic — that were turned into public amenities like sidewalk pavement, trash bins and benches. Rubble to Mountains is an effort to take the debris of a devastating event and turn it into not just a beautification project but also aid in circular economy. 

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