A ministerial committee tasked with devising a new waste management plan on Wednesday held its first meeting at the Grand Serail under Prime Minister Saad Hariri, as a panel member said the incineration waste treatment approach has surfaced as a “serious” alternative to landfills.

“Another meeting has been scheduled for February 18 to continue the discussions,” Environment Minister Tareq al-Khatib said after the talks.

Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said “the current inclination is to endorse the choice of incinerators to resolve the waste problem.”

Prior to the meeting Hajj Hassan had described incineration as “a serious choice,” noting that “it is implemented by the most important countries in the world.”

The panel also comprises Deputy Premier and Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani, Minister of Interior and Municipalities Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Public Works Minister Youssef Fenianos, Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil and State Minister for Administrative Development Enaya Ezzeddine.

The meeting was also attended by Council for Reconstruction and Development chief Nabil al-Jisr and Cabinet Secretary-General Fouad Fleifel.

Activists who took to the streets in angry protests during the 2015 unprecedented garbage crisis had rejected both the incineration and land-filling of unsorted and untreated garbage, calling instead for eco-friendly solutions based on sorting and recycling.

The unprecedented crisis had erupted after the closure of the central Naameh landfill on July 17, 2015.

The crisis saw the country’s streets overflowing with waste and the air filled with the smell of rotting garbage for several weeks.

Experts have urged the government to devise a comprehensive waste management solution that would include more recycling and composting to reduce the amount of trash going into landfills.

A judge has recently ordered the permanent closure of the Costa Brava rubbish dump near Beirut airport after warnings that birds attracted by the garbage were threatening aircraft safety.

Costa Brava was opened in March last year as one of three “temporary” tips intended to provide an interim solution after the closure of the Naameh landfill. The dumps were eventually intended to have waste processing facilities, but that has not happened.

As a result, garbage has piled up in Costa Brava, on the coastline close to the airport runways, reaching nine meters in some places.

A permanent solution for the waste produced by Beirut and its surroundings has yet to be found. The issue is one of many outstanding challenges for Lebanon’s new government, which was formed on December 18 after two and a half years of political deadlock.