Below are seven basic questions to ask when facing a proposal for a hazardous waste incinerator. The bottom line is that if we stop an incinerator without promoting clean production, we are sure to see more incinerator proposals in the future.
1. WHY is the incinerator needed at all? When you are faced with a proposal for a hazardous waste incinerator, the first question you need to ask is WHY the hazardous waste is generated in the first place. Clean manufacturing does not generate incinerable waste. What reasons do your government or industries give for the incinerator’s need?
2. WHO will generate the waste to be burned? What companies?
3. WHAT process waste streams will be generated? From what manufacturing sectors? Also are any discarded PRODUCTS, like used batteries, plastics, or tyres, burned in hazardous waste incinerators in your country?
4. PLANNING. Have these companies done a pollution prevention audit and plan? (Sometimes called a toxics use reduction or cleaner production plan) Note: ISO14000 is NOT the same as a mandatory pollution prevention or cleaner production plan.
5. PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION. If yes, do you have access to these company plans?Do you have access to information about process waste streams and products that are being sent to an incinerator (or that will be sent to a proposed hazardous waste incinerator)?
6. REGULATIONS. If companies have not done a mandatory cleaner production plan, why not? Each company needs to have an ongoing programme to replace toxic chemicals use with safer substitutes and such planning needs to be mandatory.
7. GOVERNMENT POLICY. Does the government support cleaner production planning or does it support incineration? In other words where does government money go – to help industry become clean and to protect workers and communities? Or does it assume the future needs to be toxic and so incinerators need to handle these ongoing waste streams?
For more information on clean production, see the Citizens’ Guide to Clean Production available online at: www.sustainableproduction.org. If you can’t access this online, please contact the GAIA Secretariat as GAIA has a limited number of copies to distribute.
Written by Beverly Thorpe, Clean Production Action, email: bevcpro(at)aol.com, telephone: + 1 (514) 484-8647