Incinerators are one of the most toxic, expensive, dangerous, and climate-polluting industries. Falsely advertised as a solution to a waste crisis that stems from over production and consumption, incinerators not only deter funding from strategies that offer real solutions, but are manifestations of environmental racism. Those most affected by their negative impacts are the least responsible for our waste crisis—lower income communities, communities of color, and marginalized communities. Incinerators emit 68% more greenhouse gases per unit of energy than coal plants. Despite being a major contributor to climate change, the incinerator industry stays afloat by relying on renewable energy credits, costly subsidies, and externalized costs. Public money—millions in tax dollars—is in this way siphoned into incinerators and taken away from real renewables and other sustainable solutions that are significantly more cost-effective.
GAIA believes that only work that is grounded in the needs and realities of frontline communities will be successful in creating real and lasting change. For this reason, we support community-led organizing against incinerators and the industry’s climate, health, environmental, and economic impacts, and promote the benefits of zero waste. We also produce communications and research to share data and learnings across countries and regions, and support movement and capacity building to strengthen local work.
International financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank are a major driver of incinerator projects, which are capital intensive and sources of significant long-term debt. GAIA’s work includes raising standards in financing policy, such as the exclusion of waste-to-energy incineration from the new European Union Sustainable Finance Taxonomy Report (which determines which economic activities, investments, and assets can be considered supportive of the Sustainable Development Goals and of EU climate goals).
GAIA’s strength lies in our members, who stand with communities and work together in solidarity, collaboration, and commitment to environmental justice. Organizations around the world that have a strong stance against incineration and other false solutions that promote burning or dumping waste.
“We can confidently say that we don’t have any active waste incinerators in South Africa. Whenever an incinerator proposal has sprung up in various parts of the country, SAWPA has worked with other partnering organisations to challenge them.”
“We succeeded in rejecting the presidential regulation promoting waste-to-energy incineration in the country.”
“We have developed a strong campaign to warn about the dangers of incineration, the threat it poses, and the benefits of zero waste.”