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Chateau Ksara upgrades sustainability initiatives to tackle “extreme” climate pressure

Published:  20 June, 2022

Chateau Ksara, a leading Lebanese wine producer and one of the country’s oldest companies, has announced it is pushing forward with a roster of new climate action initiatives to tackle “extreme pressure” on natural resources.

The winery, which dates back to 1857, is claiming to have introduced some of the country’s most sustainable  climate action focused initiatives, which aim to benefit both the winery and the local community.

This includes a water treatment initiative that has “revolutionised the waste-water systems”, as well as teaming up with a local waste paper and board recycling company in the Bekaa Valley.

These changes are necessary, the producer said, after it became clear that Lebanon was at high risk from drought due to its locale in the Mediterranean basin and the ongoing effects of climate change.

“It is a particular priority in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon’s main winemaking region, where rampant urbanisation in the past 15 years has put extreme pressure on the natural springs that have historically supplied the area,” industrial engineer, Kamil Chaoui, said. “Ksara spring, which used to flow all year long, 20 years ago, is now dry for approximately six months.”

Having grown up on the estate, Chaoui is now leading the innovations of Ksara’s sustainable development department.

His work includes ensuring water is safely discharged into the sewer system during the wet season or recycled during the dry season, thus irrigating the 6,300 square meters of gardens at the winery’s Bekaa Valley estate.

The winery can now safely dispose of 9,000 cubic meters of waste-water into the municipality system in one year. The next step is to recycle the water for non-viticultural use from June to November, reducing the reliance on the underground water. “By doing this we hope to set an example to the rest of the communities of the Bekaa,” Chaoui said.

The treatment is fully biological and works by introducing a colony of bacteria into the waste-water that feeds on the winemaking detritus such as sugars, pips and skins, all of which make the water unsuitable for recycling.

A team-up with Sicomo, a local waste paper and board recycling company in the Bekaa Valley, will also enhance the winery’s circular economy by using wine corks to create renewable energy.

Sicomo currently uses agricultural waste such as dry vine branches from the pruning season as biomass to generate steam, used in the drying process of recycled paper fibers.

“As a natural product with a high calorific value, the wine cork can be exploited by the plant as raw material. Testing has shown that 100 wine corks can produce enough steam to recycle 1 kilogram of paper. We have also pledged to plant native oak trees, Maloul and Sindyan, with every 500 corks collected. The trees will be planted as part of a reforestation plan of 3.5 ha in the West Bekaa near the Barouk Nature Reserve,” Chaoui concluded.