Neil Tangri neil(at)


CDM Waste Projects Undermine Poor And Increase Emissions

09 June 2009. Bonn, Germany: The Clean Development Mechanism’s waste projects undermine the livelihoods of poor people and increase greenhouse gas emissions, say a group of grassroots recyclers attending the United Nations climate change negotiations.

“The CDM is funding incinerators and landfill gas projects that compete with recycling for recyclable materials,” said Silvio Ruiz, who represents the Colombia National Association of Recyclers, with 35,000 people and 105 grassroots organizations. “This competition puts at risk the livelihoods of about 60 million economically vulnerable individuals around the world who make a living from recycling.”

Baida Gakwad, of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtikari Panchayat, a wastepicker union with 6,000 members in Pune, India, agrees. “Our members have lost access to recyclables because of the CDM incinerator project. This reduces the earnings of society’s poorest workers.”

The CDM’s projects are just as bad for the climate. “By replacing recycling with incineration and landfilling, CDM projects are actually increasing emissions,” said Neil Tangri of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. “This is because recycling and composting are 25 times more effective at reducing emissions than waste-to-energy.”

Several networks representing hundreds of thousands of grassroots recyclers are attending the UNFCCC meetings in Bonn. They are calling for the CDM to stop approving waste-to-energy projects, which further subsidize a polluting, socially destructive industry. Instead, climate funds should support the informal recycling sector which would increase employment while dramatically reducing emissions.

“Recycling and composting provide ten times more jobs per ton of waste than landfills and incinerators do,” said Mr. Ruiz. “To reduce emissions and protect livelihoods, grassroots recycling should be expanded and protected, not displaced.”

mobile: +49 15 2061 21214

For more information, see the factsheet on wastepickers and climate change.