Incineration has long been criticized internationally by scientific experts and organizations as a technology that releases toxic chemicals including dioxins, furans, and heavy metals into the environment, and puts our families’ health and well being at risk. Despite these facts there are thousands of incinerators of many kinds all over the world that are used to burn wastes. In the U.S., more than 100 incinerators, cement kilns, aggregate kilns and other industrial furnaces burn the nation’s hazardous wastes. Many of these facilities exist in communities of color, low-income communities, and on tribal land. Our communities are experiencing a public health crisis from decades of exposure to toxic wastes, the impacts of which will be passed along to future generations.
There are two main components to a comprehensive solution to our hazardous waste dilemma: 1) Clean production and Zero waste, a holistic approach to product manufacturing in a manner that neither uses nor releases hazardous wastes; and 2) Safe, non-incineration technologies for disposal of existing hazardous wastes and persistent organic pollutants.
This primer is intended to fill a gap in information on non-incineration technologies for hazardous waste disposal, and present strategies that can be used in parallel with clean production and zero waste efforts to bring about sustainable solutions and environmental justice.