Incinerators: Myths vs. Facts about “Waste to Energy”

Published Year:
2012
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GAIA's factsheet on incineration.
FACT1: Municipal waste is non-renewable, consisting of discarded materials such as paper, plastic and glass that are derived from finite natural resources such as forests that are being depleted at unsustainable rates.
FACT2: All incinerators pose considerable risk to the health and environment of neighboring communities as well as that of the general population.
FACT3: Burning waste contributes to climate change. Incinerators emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of electricity (2988 lbs/MWh) than coal-fired power plants.
FACT4: All incinerators are a massive waste of energy. Due to the low calorific value of waste, incinerators are only able to make small amounts of energy while destroying large amounts of reusable materials.
FACT5: Recycling creates 10-20 times more jobs than incinerators. Incinerators require huge capital investment, but they offer relatively few jobs when compared to recycling.
FACT6: Incinerators are the most expensive method to generate energy and to handle waste, while also creating significant economic burdens for host cities.
FACT7: Incinerators burn many valuable resources that can be recycled and composted, and incinerators compete for the same materials as recycling programs.
FACT8: Countries and regions in Europe that have high waste incineration rates typically recycle less.
FACT9: Waste incinerators in the EU continue to pollute the climate and cause significant public health risk, while burning billions of dollars-worth of valuable, non-renewable resources.
FACT10: U.S. communities have been pioneers in the field of Zero Waste, as have many communities in Europe that prioritize zero waste above incineration, while many EU countries are ahead of the U.S. in terms of national programs such as healthcare and climate change mitigation.

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