On September 18, Live Love Recycle, the on-demand recyclables pick-up service was awarded the Green Award for the best environmental startup at the Greentech Festival 2020 in Berlin, crowning five protracted years ripe with ingenuity and perseverance.
The service is the brainchild of Georges Bitar, a private banker turned entrepreneur who forged his dedication to solving the garbage crisis into an acclaimed startup. His mission started almost as soon as he had returned to Lebanon following a job stint in banking abroad, which coincided with the infamous garbage pile-up crisis of 2015.
Unable to find an easy option to deliver his waste to a recycling center, he endeavored to come up with his own solution, first, by convincing Uber to do runs to pick up recyclable garbage, something that lasted about 3 weeks, and later through the now much celebrated Live Love Recycle app.
The app, which was released in 2017 with financial help from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Food Program, and Acted, allows Beirut dwellers to summon a recyclable waste collector with few screen taps. Three years on, and Live Love Recycle has allowed some 20,000 residents to use recycling facilities.
To do so, Live Love Recycle recruits over 430 pick-up drivers from vulnerable communities and equips them with a fleet of electric powered motorcycles. And it doesn’t end here. The company has also recruited home cooks to prepare meals for the collectors.
In 2019, the same year that the company enrolled in the Touch Innovation Program, Live Love Recycle launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, which injected close to $40,000 into the project. The company also expanded the list of items that it picks up, including food and clothes for redistribution, and opened its own sorting facility at the beginning of this year.
Another big milestone for Live Love Recycle this year was the release of an updated app, which builds on three years of experience according to Georges, who added that further updates and features will be rolled out soon.
Sadly, Live Love Recycle did not emerge unscathed from the Beirut port blast, which claimed its recycling plant in Karantina. But at the end of our conversation, Georges charistically shared some uplifting updates: since the blast, Live Love Recycle has deployed a pick up truck to collect shattered glass for recycling, as well as a recycling station in Gemmayze.
Furthermore, he informed me of their plan to expand across the country and, more specifically, their imminent launch in two major cities.