Clean Up the River Environment

Who we are

Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) is a rural, nonprofit organization made up of people who care about the well-being of their neighbors, the health of the land and water, and the legacy we leave for future generations. 

Operating primarily in the Midwest, CURE plays a pivotal role in fostering the national rural electric co-op reform and democratization movement with a comprehensive focus on community organizing, electoral politics, and policy development.

Within their work, CURE dedicates efforts to various areas such as climate, energy, rural democracy, water, and fostering a connection between people and nature. Throughout all their projects, a central focus lies on promoting civic engagement, underscoring its significance in driving positive change.

Encouraging Energy Democracy in Rural Communities

CURE is a unique organization with a focus on rural-based approaches to combating climate, energy, and environmental issues. It operates as a Rural Democracy group, aiming to empower rural communities to address the interconnections between environmental injustice, climate issues, and democracy crises. CURE’s initiatives, like the Energy Democracy program, Rural Democracy Project, and issue-based campaigns, aim to strengthen the political, electoral, and social foundation necessary to tackle environmental challenges and inequalities faced by rural areas.

With a grounded approach, CURE supports the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table-led campaign against the HERC in North Minneapolis. CURE intends to expand the movement against incinerators beyond the Twin Cities and involve various communities in Minnesota affected by harmful energy sources. By focusing on non-metro areas impacted by other incineration facilities, CURE aims to raise awareness and resistance against Minnesota’s over-reliance on incineration for waste management, ultimately paving the way for alternative waste management solutions to landfills and incineration, as well as the transition toward a zero waste system.

The Basics

Incinerator: Xcel Energy – Wilmarth Plant

Location: 1040 Summit Ave, Mankato, MN 56001

Pounds of pollutants (annually): Data Not Available

Mercury: 2.01

PM2.5: 2,649.29

Lead: 3.48

NOx: Data Not Available

Community: 14% People of Color, 26% Low-Income

Critical Date: (Permit expiration date): not available

Who we are

The New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJEJA) is a statewide alliance of organizations and individuals focused on critical environmental justice issues. NJEJA brings together organizations and individuals committed to bringing about healthier, sustainable, and more just communities. Through education, advocacy, training, policy reviews, and organizing, NJEJA supports community efforts to remediate and rebuild impacted neighborhoods using the community’s vision of improvement.

Addressing Air Pollution, Climate Change, & Energy Policy

NJEJA’s work on incinerators emphasizes the crucial issue of air pollution in the state, with a particular focus on its disproportionate impact on EJ communities. 

In New Jersey, a significant environmental health challenge is air pollution, posing a grave threat, especially to Environmental Justice (EJ) communities, where evidence shows that pollution levels are alarmingly much higher compared to other areas in the state. Among the culprits of this problem is fine particulate matter air pollution, responsible for an estimated 200,000 premature deaths annually in the United States. This deadly pollutant is linked to cardiovascular disease and a variety of pulmonary disorders, including lung cancer, asthma, and reduced lung function, particularly affecting children. 

EJ communities bear the brunt of exposure to numerous sources of air pollution, experiencing the cumulative impacts of various pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM) that contains diesel particulates, criteria air pollutants like ozone and lead, and hazardous air pollutants. The issue of cumulative impacts focuses on developing ways to address multiple sources of pollution in EJ communities. Of most concern are the detrimental impacts that a combination of pollutants can have on the health of community residents. 

NJEJA’s efforts to address this pressing issue of incinerators and air pollution play a vital role in shedding light on these critical matters and their profound consequences for vulnerable communities in New Jersey.

The Basics

Incinerator: Covanta Essex

Location: 183 Raymond Blvd, Newark, NJ 07105

Pounds of pollutants (annually): total HAPs — 38,076.96 (2020)

Mercury: 11.20

PM2.5: 70,695.00

Lead: 19.40

CO2 BIOMASS (TONS) 2020: 433,466.00

NOx: 1,525,395.00

Community: 76% People of Color, 58% Low-Income

Critical Date: (Permit expiration date): not available

The Basics

Incinerator: Covanta Union, Inc

Location: 1499 US-1, Rahway, NJ 07065

Pounds of pollutants (annually): total HAPs — Data Not Available

Mercury: Data Not Available

PM2.5: Data Not Available

Lead: Data Not Available

CO2 BIOMASS (TONS) 2020: 239,313.00

NOx: Data Not Available

Community: 77% People of Color, 24% Low-Income

Critical Date: (Permit expiration date): not available

The Basics

Incinerator: Covanta Union, Inc

Location: 600 Morgan St, Camden, NJ 08104

Pounds of pollutants (annually): total HAPs — 65,742.65 (2020)

Mercury: Data Not Available

PM2.5: 51,320.00

Lead: 260.00

NOx: 751,520.00

Community: 80% People of Color, 57% Low-Income

Critical Date: (Permit expiration date): not available

The organizer

Chris Tandazo (they/them), Statewide Environmental Justice Organizer

Chris Tandazo (they/them) is a queer person of color, organizer, artist, and visionary. Born in Wuankavilca Territory (Guayaquil) and raised in the Paltas tradition between the shores of the Pacific and the Andes mountains, where they were constantly exposed to vast biocultural diversity, which deepened their connection with Pachamama, the land, and human and non-human kin. These experiences have shaped their worldview, cosmology, and endeavors – which they have carried throughout their organizing and advocacy.

Chris has an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management and a Graduate Minor in Impact Entrepreneurship from The New School. Their work and advocacy focus on the intersections of climate and environmental justice, community building, cooperative entrepreneurship, and decolonization

Headshot of person looking at camera in front of a green brick wall.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) channels $270 billion in tax credits for climate investments but raises concerns about incineration—a false solution to waste disposal that could generate 637.7 million tonnes of CO2e emissions over two decades, further harming the environment and disadvantaged communities.

By: Marcel Howard (Zero Waste Program Manager, US/Canada) and Jessica Roff (Plastics & Petrochemicals Program Manager, US/Canada)

Key Highlights

  • The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is primarily a tax bill. Of the promised $369 billion in climate investments, $270 billion will come in the form of tax credits1
  • Incineration is one of the most polluting and expensive waste disposal systems. Industry2 often greenwashes incineration as  “waste-to-energy”3 despite producing minimal amounts of usable energy and massive energy input
  • By measuring the lifecycle climate impacts of incineration accurately, the Department of the Treasury can deny polluting facilities billions in tax credits intended for actual sustainable energy solutions and ultimately delay or block their construction or expansion
  • If industry succeeds in propping up incinerators for 20 years, they will produce 637.7 million tonnes of climate-change-inducing CO2e emissions and further exacerbate toxic pollution and environmental racism4
  • Pairing new subsidies for incinerators with incentives for EVs is perverse
  • Turning waste, including fossil fuel-derived plastics, into jet fuel is dangerous and does not decarbonize air travel 
  • Two-thirds of US incinerators are located in states that include incineration in their renewable energy portfolio
  • The IRA allocated billions of dollars in lending subsidies specifically meant to drive reinvestment in low-wealth and environmental justice communities. Environmental justice, frontline, and fenceline groups should consider applying for these IRA lending programs


The United States (US) has a waste problem compounded by a plastic problem. For decades, we have been handling our waste in ways that harm communities, our climate, and the natural world. Federal, state, and municipal governments continue to site waste incinerators of all forms in Black, brown, indigenous, and lower-wealth communities — plaguing them with decades of harmful air emissions, high levels of greenhouse gasses, toxic waste, accidents, and other health and safety-related concerns. From fossil fuel extraction to final waste product disposal, the entire production process damages these communities and numerous others. Across the board, incineration is one of the most polluting and expensive waste disposal systems.

Industry often greenwashes incineration as  “waste-to-energy” despite producing minimal amounts of usable energy and leverages this greenwashing to access billions of dollars in federal, state, and local green, renewable, and sustainable energy subsidies and tax breaks.
Against this backdrop, the Biden Administration signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law on August 16, 2022. Many agencies are already approving and funding false solutions under the IRA. The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding new carbon capture programs at nearly $3.5 billion and allocating $1.2 billion of Justice40 money to develop direct air capture facilities. We are in a pivotal moment where the US must decide if it will take critical steps to lower greenhouse gas and toxic emissions and move toward a truly sustainable future or will continue to subsidize the dirtiest industries to annually emit millions of tonnes of new CO2 and other dangerous air pollutants.

IRA Overview

The Biden Administration claims its 755-page IRA is the most comprehensive climate bill in US history that is supposed to “make a historic commitment to build a new clean energy economy.” Its provisions on climate change mitigation, clean energy, and energy innovation dominate headlines, as it raises nearly $800 billion from multiple sources. President Biden said, “With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost.” To ensure this is true and stop the incinerator lobby and other special interests from cashing in on a new pool of taxpayer money, the federal government must implement critical changes to its business-as-usual model.

The IRA is primarily a tax bill. Of the promised $369 billion in climate investments, $270 billion will come in the form of tax credits. Before the IRA, Congress awarded tax credits to specific technologies (including incinerators) regardless of greenhouse gas emissions or community harm. Beginning in 2025, however, their eligibility will depend entirely on the Department of Treasury (Treasury) determining that they are zero-emission technologies. By measuring the lifecycle climate impacts of incineration accurately, Treasury can deny polluting facilities billions in tax credits intended for actual sustainable energy solutions and ultimately delay or block their construction or expansion.

Threats & False Solutions

Lifelines to Old, Failing Incinerators

Corporate polluters are corrupting the IRA, lobbying to weaken its rules and definitions to qualify for billions in new subsidies to expand and retrofit existing incinerators, most of which have been operating for an average of 32 years. It is nearly impossible to construct new conventional incinerators due to cost and community opposition, so industry is focused on expansion and modification. If industry succeeds in propping up incinerators for 20 years, they will produce 637.7 million tonnes of climate-change-inducing CO2e emissions and further exacerbate toxic pollution and environmental racism. 

Codifying False and Greenwashed Definitions

The incinerator lobby’s goal is to maximize subsidies, profits, and expansion and to use the IRA and other climate bills as a subsidized path to an undeserved sustainable image upgrade. In the context of the IRA, federal agencies such as the Treasury, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can either categorize incineration as the dirty, expensive, polluting process it is or bolster industry’s claims that incineration produces sustainable energy. If the federal government supports industry’s definitions in the earliest stages of IRA implementation, they will frame agency action and provide billions in tax credits, likely being codified for many climate laws, including the IRA.

IRA Breakdown & Opportunities for the Incinerator Lobby 

The incinerator lobby is working to undermine all aspects of the IRA, specifically focusing on (1) the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), (2) Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), and (3) IRA lending programs. 

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

In consultation with the Department of Agriculture and DOE, EPA implements the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The RFS program is a “national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil, or jet fuel.” The four renewable fuel categories under the RFS are biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Although long limited to liquid fuels like ethanol, Biden’s EPA is in the process of allowing electricity from certain types of bioenergy to generate eligible credits. Under the current proposal, electric vehicle manufacturers would contract with power producers to generate highly profitable RFS credits.

Pairing new subsidies for incinerators with incentives for EVs is perverse. While support for electric vehicles is vital, it must not be fueled by dirty energy nor sacrifice frontline and fenceline communities. Incinerator interests recently launched a lobbying campaign to secure these incentives. Fortunately, EPA is not required to allow incinerator electricity into the program and has recently tabled an industry-backed eligibility proposal. But, only public pressure on Biden’s EPA and key Administration climate deciders will ensure they don’t approve such proposals.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) 

As one of the most generous IRA incentives, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Tax Credit (SAF) poses an urgent environmental justice concern. The credit increases in value for lower lifecycle emissions fuels. Treasury’s implementation will determine if this approach succeeds or fails. Industry interests are pushing to make the credit friendlier– and more lucrative–to a new generation of incinerators masquerading behind greenwashing like “pyrolysis,”  “chemical or advanced recycling,” and “plastic-to-fuel.” Turning waste, including fossil fuel-derived plastics, into jet fuel is dangerous and does not decarbonize air travel. 

Although the new aviation production tax credit theoretically excludes petroleum-based feedstocks like plastic, industry is pressuring the Administration to interpret the law to maximize benefits for incineration-based aviation fuels. President Biden and Treasury must decisively determine that plastic-derived fuel — including that derived from pyrolysis oil or any other product of chemical recycling/pyrolysis/gasification — is ineligible for these tax credits.

Lending Programs

The IRA allocated billions of new dollars to EPA and DOE, in particular, to expand existing lending programs and launch entirely new ones. Like the rest of the IRA, these programs’ climate and justice benefits depend on implementation. EPA is in charge of the new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), arguably the most important non-tax provision of the IRA. Worth $37 billion, it will be divided into three separate programs. EPA released broad, unenforceable guidelines in April 2023, suggesting they will focus lending on distributed generation, building decarbonization, and transport. These guidelines will not ensure the money is appropriately allocated, so EPA must prioritize applicants working on proven zero waste approaches. 

DOE is in charge of The Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) Program, a new loan guarantee program with $250 billion that must be spent before 2026. It can fund energy infrastructure upgrades and the reopening of defunct energy infrastructure, both of which industry could coopt to support their ongoing incineration and chemical recycling plans. DOE must refuse to consider any incinerator applications to guarantee industry does not use loopholes to access clean energy tax credits. 

In July, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee passed the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies budget for Fiscal Year 2024. Their budget supports chemical recycling while cutting massive amounts from EPA’s budget and the IRA’s environmental justice efforts, including a nearly $4 billion EPA budget cut (a 39% reduction over 2023), reneging on the IRA’s $1.35 billion promised in environmental and climate justice grants.

Call to Action 

The incinerator lobby is so desperate for money and a government-greenwashed reputation that they launched a new, big-money–astroturf5 network, including DC power brokers and local government enablers. The combined movements6 for climate justice don’t have industry money, but we have people power, the truth, and a prime opportunity to fight against this industry push. There are three key areas in which to counter industry’s agenda: (1) Treasury engagement, (2) state-level renewable portfolio standards, and (3)  IRA lending subsidies. 

Treasury Engagement

As the Washington Post exposed in May 2023, the incinerator industry is among polluting industries racing to position themselves as green to access billions in subsidies and tax credits. In the last year alone, industry launched two trade groups to push their message: the Waste-to-Energy Association and the Circular Economy Coalition. Both have made comments to access benefits for incinerators under the Inflation Reduction Act, or considered prioritizing it. Industry is dedicated to getting Treasury to qualify incinerators as renewable, despite overwhelming evidence that incinerators are extremely polluting. 

It is critical to engage with Treasury as it develops policies, rules, regulations, and procedures to implement the IRA. If Treasury determines this most costly and polluting form of energy is zero emission, it will set an appallingly low bar within the IRA that will exacerbate rather than address the climate crisis, perpetuating and compounding the issues we currently face, and permanently scarring the Biden Administration legacy.

State-level Renewable Portfolio Standards 

The IRA has broad implications, reaching far beyond the federal level of government. Defeating federal government incinerator giveaways in the IRA and other federal climate initiatives will strengthen communities fighting state and local government incinerator giveaways. Currently, different states provide a patchwork of policies and incentives related to incineration. Perhaps most notable are state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and four US territories have an RPS. Each RPS has its own renewable electricity targets, defines what technologies qualify as renewable, designates particular technologies as higher or lower tier within the mix, and enables the trading or sale of renewable energy credits. Two-thirds of US incinerators are located in the 26 US states and territories that include incineration in their renewable energy portfolio. Showing industry’s power, scope, and connections at both the federal and state levels of government. It also shows an entrenched mentality that incineration is a clean energy solution. It is imperative that the IRA does not follow suit.

IRA Lending Subsidies

Along with Treasury engagement, environmental justice, frontline, and fenceline groups should consider applying to IRA lending programs. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) and DOE’s Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) Program offers billions of dollars for projects specifically meant to drive reinvestment in low-wealth and environmental justice communities. Both programs provide an opportunity to fund proven zero waste solutions that push back against false solutions, like incineration. 

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF): The GGRFis a $27 billion investment program designed to achieve the following: “ (1) Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants;  (2) deliver benefits of greenhouse gas, and air pollution-reducing projects specifically to low-wealth and disadvantaged communities; and (3)  mobilize financing and private capital to stimulate additional deployment of greenhouse gas and air pollution reducing projects.” The GGRF is being implemented via three grant competitions, which include: (1) the National Clean Investment Fund, (2) the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator, and (3) the Solar for All Fund.”7 

The National Clean Investment Fund: “The National Clean Investment Fund competition will provide grants to 2-3 national nonprofit clean financing institutions7 capable of partnering with the private sector to provide accessible, affordable financing for tens of thousands of clean technology projects across the country.To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit Application packages must be submitted on or before October 12, 2023, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) through

The Clean Communities Investment Accelerator: “The Clean Communities Investment Accelerator competition will provide grants to 2-7 hub nonprofits that will, in turn, deliver funding and technical assistance to build the clean financing capacity of local community lenders working in low-wealth and disadvantaged communities so that underinvested communities have the capital they need to deploy clean technology projects.” To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit Application packages must be submitted on or before October 12, 2023, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) through 

DOE Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) Program: “The EIR Program provides $250 billion for projects that retool, repower, repurpose, or replace energy infrastructure that has ceased operations or enable operating energy infrastructure to avoid, reduce, utilize, or sequester air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.” To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit Individuals interested in applying should request a no-cost pre-application consultation with a member from DOE’s Loan Programs Office. 

USDA Empowering Rural America (New ERA) Program: “The ERA program provides $9.7 billion for projects that help rural Americans transition to clean, affordable, and reliable energy intending to improve health outcomes and lower energy costs for people in rural communities.” To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit Individuals interested in applying should submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) by September 15, 2023.  


On paper, the Biden Administration’s IRA may be the most comprehensive climate legislation in history, but it also has the immense potential to be a climate destroyer. We are at a crossroads where the Administration and all other levels of government have the power to use the IRA for its stated purpose to “confront the existential threat of the climate crisis and set forth a new era of American innovation and ingenuity to lower consumer costs and drive the global clean energy economy forward.” To make the promise a reality, the Administration — including all the executive agencies, particularly Treasury, Energy, and EPA — cannot succumb to industry greenwashing lobbying.

The Biden Administration must accurately measure the lifecycle climate and health impacts of all forms of incineration and its products (including pyrolysis and gasification) and unequivocally determine that it is not a source of clean energy or a safe way to make jet fuel. It will be up to our ever-expanding movement to hold the Administration accountable to the ideal of the IRA and ensure it is not another greenwashed handout to industry — and that its tax credits and funding go to sustainable solutions that benefit the Black, brown, indigenous, and low wealth communities as it initially intended. 

For more information on the Inflation Reduction Act and its lending programs, visit our fact sheet here.

  1. As a tax bill, the categories and definitions of processes are critical because they will determine if a process is covered under it. Historically, there have been some good and some bad determinative definitions (including currently for chemical recycling). ↩︎
  2.  Industry refers to the plastics, incinerator, fossil fuel, and chemical industries who are all perpetuating the plastic waste problem ↩︎
  3.  Industry labels waste-to-energy (WTE) a number of different ways including: plastic-to-fuel (PTF), plastic-to-energy (PTE), refuse-derived-fuel, etc. ↩︎
  4.  This is entirely dependent on if the federal government places incinerators into favorable categories for purposes of massive amounts of tax credits and de facto subsidies. ↩︎
  5.  Astroturfing is the practice of hiding the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious, or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from, and is supported by, grassroots participants. ↩︎
  6.  The movement includes, but is not limited to – and is always open to expand – the environmental justice movement, climate movement, conservation movement, public health movement, plastics movement, etc. ↩︎
  7. The deadline for the Solar for All Competition has recently been extended to October 12, 2023. Please review this link for additional information:,%2C%20Tribal%20governments%2C%20municipalities%2C%20and ↩︎

September 8, 2023 –  West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil on Wednesday (9/8/2023) has announced the name of the winner of the tender that will build and manage the Legok Nangka Waste Processing and Final Processing Site/ Tempat Pengolahan dan Pemrosesan Akhir Sampah (TPPAS) in Citaman Village, Nagreg District, Bandung Regency. Therefore, there will be a Waste-to-Energy facility or incinerator for the Waste Power Plant at that location. The TPPAS Legok Nangka will burn waste sent from six regions, namely Bandung City, Cimahi City, Bandung Regency, West Bandung Regency, Garut Regency, and Sumedang Regency.

Not long after the announcement, the Sarimukti Landfill experienced a fire incident for more than 7 days and led to the announcement of the waste emergency status by Ridwan Kamil. In response to these two incidents, AZWI, WALHI West Java, WALHI National, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), called for a halt to the use of thermal technologies such as incinerators. The West Java Provincial Government and the West Java Environment Agency need to review the decision to choose this waste burning technology in the midst of a waste emergency.

Meiki Paendong, Executive Director of WALHI West Java stated, “The high cost of incinerator tipping fees and the put-or-pay mechanism in the cooperation contract is an imposition that is very risky and burdens public funds owned by district and city governments. The Sarimukti landfill fire is one indication that the current budget is far from sufficient to operate a safe landfill.”

Meiki emphasized that incinerators are the most expensive way to handle waste and generate electricity. According to him, cities and regencies still need a huge additional budget to manage waste in a segregated manner and reduce waste at source, especially organic waste which dominates Metro Bandung’s waste generation.

He also added that funding for incinerators should be diverted to manage organic waste which is the culprit of the Sarimukti landfill fire and Leuwigajah landfill explosion. “Investing in composting has the potential to generate at least 6 times more new jobs than incinerators,” added Meiki.

Abdul Ghofar from WALHI’s National Executive said, “The Legok Nangka Waste Power Plant project is burdening and harming the country’s finances with a 100 million dollar debt loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), part of the World Bank. Ghofar also criticized the winning of the Legok Nangka Waste Power Plant tender to a Japanese consortium company. “The determination of incinerator technology was allegedly influenced by the results of technical assistance by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which led to the winning of the Sumitomo – Hitachi Zosen consortium, a Japanese company selling incinerators in various countries. The huge tipping fee will benefit the Japanese but harm the people who pay through taxes,” continued the urban issues campaigner.

In addition, the International Waste Pickers Alliance also reported that incinerators and privatization of the waste sector are very detrimental to waste pickers and informal workers in the waste sector.  

Another deal that is detrimental to local governments is related to subsidies. This will lead to a reduction in the budget available for sorting, recycling and generation limitation efforts which are the targets of Local Policy and Strategy on Municipal Solid Waste or also known as JAKSTRADA.

GAIA’s response: Waste and the climate crisis

Meanwhile, Yobel Novian Putra from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) emphasized the negative consequences of incinerators on the climate crisis. “Incinerators

will only replicate the Sarimukti landfill fire that released greenhouse gasses on a large scale. Like the landfill fire, incinerators burn a mixture of different types of waste, both organic waste and plastics made from fossil fuels.” Recent studies have shown that incinerators in the US, UK and Europe release more greenhouse gas emissions than coal-fired power plants. “Burning organic waste only converts methane gas emissions from organic waste into massive CO2. This will only keep Indonesia away from the Paris Agreement target and the Global Methane Pledge agreement that Indonesia signed recently,” criticized Yobel who is a Climate Policy Officer from GAIA.

Responding to the greater Bandung area waste crisis related to the Sarimukti landfill fire, Meiki emphasized, “Burning waste, especially wet organic waste, is very inefficient and only converts one problem into another. On the other hand, technologies such as composting and bio-conversion (e.g. Black Soldier Fly) or maggot can prevent methane gas emissions at a unit cost that is much cheaper, easier, and has multiple benefits.”  He also added that when the Sarimukti landfill could not be used, the Legok Nangka Final Processing Site should have been used to overcome the waste crisis. But because the facility is bound by the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, it cannot even be opened.

Therefore, we, civil society organizations, are of the view that the incinerator is not a solution to the waste problem and will only cause new social and environmental problems. Not only that, it is possible that it will burden the finances of local and city governments.  


Media Contacts: 

Siti Dzakiyyah, Media Relations Officer. Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia  | | +62 852-1580-9537

Meiki Paendong, Executive Director, WALHI West Java | | +62 857-2145-2117

Yobel Novian Putra, Climate Policy Officer, GAIA | | +62 821-2818-4440

About Alliance Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) | The Zero Waste Indonesia Alliance is an association of organizations consisting of YPBB, GIDKP, Nexus3 Foundation, PPLH Bali, ECOTON, ICEL, Nol Sampah Surabaya, Greenpeace Indonesia, Gita Pertiwi and WALHI. AZWI campaigns for the correct implementation of the Zero Waste concept within a mainstreaming framework through various Zero Waste activities, programs, and initiatives that already exist to be implemented in various cities and regencies in Indonesia by considering the waste management hierarchy, material life cycle, and sustainable production and consumption approaches. 

About WALHI West Java | Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI) is an independent and non-profile environmental organization established on October 15, 1980. WALHI has more than 500 member organizations and 28 regional offices, one of which is WALHI West Java. WALHI is affiliated with the Friends of the Earth International Federation. An international grassroots organization in 76 countries. 

About GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) | GAIA is a network of grassroots groups and national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries. GAIA focuses on waste and environmental justice issues and works to strengthen grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. 


Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (2021). The High Cost of Waste Incineration.

Ribeiro-Broomhead, J. & Tangri, N. (2021). Zero Waste and Economic Recovery: The Job Creation Potential of Zero Waste Solutions. Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

By Programs Manager of Era/FoEN, Maimoni Ubrei-Joe

During a webinar titled “Embracing Zero Waste: A Path to Addressing Climate,” which was hosted by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and other member organizations, they had a discussion about zero waste systems.

Mariel Vilella, the director of the Global Climate Program at GAIA, stated that 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the product life cycles of garbage, which include its extraction, transportation, and disposal into the environment. According to Mariel, the waste industry is the third largest generator of anthropogenic methane. Since anthropogenic methane has a warming potential that is 82 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, it is an exceptionally hazardous greenhouse gas and a superior pollution.

According to her, the creation of plastic and the pollution that it causes also results in greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of the lifecycle—from its beginning as fossil fuels through refining and manufacturing to disposal emissions at the end of life. She also mentioned that waste-to-energy incinerators are also considered to be extremely polluting facilities. She stated that composting, source reduction, and energy recovery are zero waste strategies that can be used to reduce GHG emissions from waste, as a powerful mitigation approach that is adaptable to different needs and circumstances. She highlighted the key takeaways from a Zero Waste to Zero Emissions modelling study of eight cities that was conducted by GAIA in 2022.

She went on to point out that the zero waste strategy, in addition to having positive effects on the environment such as less air pollution and fewer floods, also has positive effects on society, the economy, and institutions. These benefits include improved public health, a reduction in poverty, the creation of jobs, and increased public involvement and participation.

Chima Williams, Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, was another one of the people who spoke during the webinar. He remarked that it is high time that the fallacies that are embedded in the current waste management systems in Nigeria and around the world be examined and replaced with regulations that are binding. Flooding is cited as an example of the destruction, loss of life, and loss of property that may be attributed to the presence of plastic trash in the world. According to him, the global south requires additional education regarding the threats posed by plastic garbage and the effects it has on the earth. He went on to say that the webinar, along with other platforms of a similar nature, are avenues to participate in and collectively join hands in the fight against plastic waste as no one group can do it all by themselves.

Leslie Adogame, Executive Director of Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev), indicated that there is a significant gap in policies connected to waste management and climate change. Adogame’s statement was made on behalf of SRADev. He added that GAIA has members in Nigeria with the goal of bridging the gap between waste reduction and climate change while developing ideas, policies, and activities that will promote waste reduction as an important climate action.

The Programs Manager of Era/FoEN, Maimoni Ubrei-Joe, emphasized the main successes of GAIA and ERA in promoting zero waste, including the creation of the Zero Waste Ambassador, in order to promote zero waste policies at the local level. 

The importance of zero waste in global south countries cannot be overstated. These countries often face unique challenges in waste management and are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Implementing zero waste practices can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, but also create opportunities for sustainable economic development and improve public health in these regions. Additionally, embracing zero waste principles can help preserve natural resources, protect biodiversity, and foster a more resilient and equitable society for future generations.


By Nipe Fagio Staff

Nipe Fagio, a member of the Global Alliance for Anti-Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Africa, has started the implementation of their online Zero Waste Academy in Tanzania, with a primary focus on the African continent. Nipe Fagio took over leadership of the process from Zero Waste Asia. The goal is to diversify trash-free systems in Africa and to take part in the process of developing sustainable communities that are free of plastic waste.

The Zero Waste Academy engages participants who are currently implementing or will start implementing zero waste implementation on the continent and beyond, with the backing of a strong organization engaged in systemic change in their area. Participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those who work in the government, non-profit, and private sectors. The online portion of the academy will take place from August until September 2023, and there will be a live component available for participation in October. Additionally, participants will have the option to sign up to become members of the African Zero Waste Coalition for Zero Waste Implementers.

“Participants at the Academy are excited to gain further knowledge on the implementation of zero waste policies. It is incredibly wonderful to see that the materials supplied in the course (assignments and tutorials) have boosted their dedication and enthusiasm to develop a zero waste program in either their town or cities.” Explained Marco Dotto – Nipe Fagio’s Zero Waste-Community Mobilization Officer, who has been teaching the participants on community mobilization and advocacy.

The academy is broken up into many theme categories, such as Understanding Zero Waste Systems, Introduction to the Zero Waste Academy, and Material Recovery Facilities Management. False solutions, trash management, advocacy and policy for zero waste, and data management in zero waste systems are all part of the building process. The 56 Participants in the academy will gain comprehensive knowledge and skills in various aspects of zero waste implementation. They will also receive hands-on training and practical guidance on how to effectively manage waste materials and develop sustainable strategies. 

Furthermore, the academy fosters a collaborative environment where participants can network with like-minded individuals and exchange ideas for advancing the zero waste movement globally.


By Kaziro Douglas, Bio Vision Africa, Uganda.

The 19th ordinary session of the Africa Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) took place from 14-18 August 2023 at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa.  The session’s theme was Seizing opportunities and enhancing collaboration to address environmental challenges in Africa.  Prior to the meeting, UNEP major groups and Stakeholders (CSOs) held a meeting at Capital Hotel in Ethiopia on 12-13 August 2023 and drafted a Major Groups and Stakeholders statement which was read to the Ministers during the main session. 

AMCEN was established in December 1985, with a mandate of providing advocacy for environmental protection in Africa and ensuring that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner.

The discussions for the 19th session focused on the twenty-eighth session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  (COP28) and the Africa Climate Summit (ACS), the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEA6); Africa’s participation in the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution (INC process); Africa’s preparations for the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; preparations for the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management, the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and implementation of 18th  AMCEN decisions. 

I was a participant with support from GAIA, My focus was mainly on Africa’s participation in the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution (INC process), AMC 18/6 decision on phasing out opening burning in Africa, preparations for the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management, and most of my engagements pretty much nearly 90% were on the plastic treaty work. It was an interesting learning experience with good information to take home as a first-time participant in AMCEN meetings. 

Key highlights from the meeting included declarations, decisions and key messages adopted by the session notably the decision 19/2 African participation in the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, which relates directly to our work and a declaration to appreciate the work of the African Group of Negotiators on plastics, and urged member states to support the African position on the establishment of a legally binding instrument. 

By and large, the discussions were fruitful, with few contestations from some countries, especially on the issue of raw materials for plastics being considered as plastics.  Also, there was a considerable representation from countries in the Global South. It’s important to mention that, going forward, the draft documents from this session can provide good information for our advocacy work as Civil Society organizations as we continue engaging with our National Focal Points within our various countries and ensure that the language and other key components that we desire to be in the Plastic treaty are well captured.


Thanks to the tireless work of the #breakfreefromplastic movement and GAIA members around the world, last March, the United Nations Environment Assembly decided on a mandate to create the world’s first Plastics Treaty, a legally binding international law aimed at reducing plastic pollution worldwide, covering the full life-cycle of plastic. This is a historic step forward in the fight against plastic pollution, and would not have been possible without a diverse movement of waste pickers, frontline community activists, and zero waste advocates demanding systemic change. However, there’s still a long road ahead–there will be a series of meetings through the end of 2024 during which the treaty will take shape. GAIA and our allies will be present for the entirety of the negotiations to make sure our issues are represented, but it will take continuing pressure from people all over the world to ensure that we get a strong treaty that meets the scale of the crisis. Such a treaty must include plastic reduction targets, eradicate toxics, exclude false solutions like incineration, scale up zero waste solutions such as reuse, and center a just transition for waste pickers and other groups at the frontlines of the crisis.


Reflections on the Close of INC-2

The second round of negotiations for a global plastics treaty concluded on June 2, 2023 in Paris, France. While there were many attempts by industry and certain countries to stall progress and the United Nations Environment Programme limited civil society’s voice, the fight for a strong global plastics treaty advanced to the next stage.


The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) held a press conference along with representatives from Acción Ecológica México, Zero Waste Alliance Ecuador,, Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers, Kenya National Waste Pickers Welfare Association, and Community Action Against Plastic Waste to provide perspectives from civil society organisations in the global south as the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution commences.


Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is compelled to respond to the harmful and damaging arguments published  recently in The New York Times opinion piece by The Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat. This article perpetuates the false narrative that the Global South is somehow to blame for the plastic pollution problem, and that expensive downstream approaches are our best tool to fight it–downplaying the necessity of reducing plastic production, which advocates and experts around the world are pushing for at the upcoming global plastics treaty negotiations next week in Paris.

Press Release: New UNEP Report Sparks Controversy Ahead of Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations

Civil society organizations, academics, and frontline groups are expressing their concern over the UNEP Spotlight report’s promotion of burning plastic waste in cement kilns as a key strategy in the design and implementation of the Global Plastics Treaty.


Press Release: Closing of INC-1

The first intergovernmental committee meeting (INC-1) for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded today with a mix of high and low moments, setting the stage for a two-year-long process that could result in one of the most significant multilateral environmental agreements in history.

Press Release: Historic Recognition of Waste Pickers in Plastics Treaty Negotiations

The formation of a Group of Friends of Waste Pickers was announced on November 29, 2022 at the negotiations towards a global plastics treaty. This historic moment marks unprecedented recognition of the rights, skills, and importance of the informal waste sector; never before have countries formally committed to advocate on behalf of waste pickers in the context of international negotiations.

Policy Briefs/Submissions

GAIA Submission Part B- Input on the Potential Areas of Intersessional Work to Inform the INC-3: Further Information

This submission provides detailed GAIA recommendations to orient intersessional work and global plastics treaty negotiations. It includes criteria and processes to set plastic production freeze and phasedown targets and schedules and their supporting measures, and a framework to identify high-risk plastic products and materials for priority action, as well as polymers and other chemicals of concern, among other issues.


GAIA Submission to INC-3 Part B: Roadmap for intersessional work


GAIA Submission on Treaty Scope and Principles

The future plastics treaty’s scope agreed in UNEA resolution 5/14 covers all plastics and all plastic pollution across the full lifecycle of plastics. In addition to the Rio Principles, human rights, the principle of prevention and inter-generational equity must also be reflected in treaty control measures and means of implementation. 


GAIA’s Key Demands for INC-2

This document is an overview of the key GAIA asks for INC-2. More detail can be found in the GAIA INC-2 submission


GAIA Commentary on INC-2 Options Paper

Read GAIA’s select comments on document UNEP/PP/INC.2/4 Potential options for elements towards an international legally binding instrument, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastics (Options Paper).


Plastics circularity: beyond the hype 

References to the “circular economy of plastics” and  “plastics circularity” have multiplied around the plastic treaty negotiations. This brief considers the following questions:

  • What is circularity – is it the same as recycling? 
  • Is circularity always good for the environment?  
  • For whose profit and at whose expense is plastic waste traded for “global plastics circularity”?
  • What are the challenges with plastic recycling, and what future does it have?  
  • What safeguards are needed for the rights of workers who collect and recycle plastic wastes? 

This document contains an overview of the status of the negotiations thus far, as well as a negotiations timeline.


Defining Plastic Products, Materials and Polymers: A Proposal

Adequate definitions of plastic products and polymers are needed in the global plastic treaty to capture the full range of sources of plastic pollution (November 2022).


The Pros and Cons of EPR: Lessons from France

In the context of the upcoming plastic treaty negotiations in Paris (INC-2, May-June 2023), Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes are often put forward as an essential policy approach to address the global plastic pollution crisis, especially as a source of funding and a way to incentivize redesign for reuse and plastic waste prevention. France is often cited as an EPR pioneer, particularly in the use of eco-modulated fees to encourage reuse and eco-design.

This paper draws lessons from France’s EPR experience in packaging and other sectors, and explores to what extent EPR schemes can truly promote reuse and other eco-design, reduce low-quality recycling and plastic burning, as well as effectively fund the costs of the plastic pollution crisis.


Submission to INC-2

Read GAIA’s key recommendations for INC-2 from May 29-June 2 2023.

Submission to the INC Process on Plastic Pollution July 15, 2022

GAIA’s recommendations for the negotiation process towards a global instrument on plastic pollution.

Issues in Focus

Plastics Crisis: Challenges, Advances and Relationship with Waste Pickers

Negotiations must include the recognition of the historical work of those who have recovered more materials and in the most efficient way: the waste pickers.

Rommel Cabrera/GAIA, 2019. Waste pickers collecting separated waste from households. Tacloban City, the Philippines.

Overview of the Plastics Treaty/Tratado sobre plásticos

Plastic pollution does not respect borders. It is in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and even in our bodies. A new binding legal instrument, covering the entire lifecycle of plastic, is required to tackle this planetary crisis.


The Plastic Waste Trade

Top exporters such as the United States, Germany, the UK, Japan and Australia are placing a disproportionate toxic burden on the environment and communities in importing countries. A Global Plastics Treaty can enact stricter measures on the waste trade to prevent environmental injustices.


Plastic and Waste Pickers/Recicladores

Plastic takes up a large percentage of the waste handled by waste pickers. Consequently, they are one of the most vulnerable occupation groups that stand to be impacted by the global plastics treaty. The treaty must establish the legal frameworks required to improve working conditions for waste pickers.


Toxics and Health

Plastic contains toxic chemicals that leach into our food, water, and soil. Out of about 10,000 chemicals used as plastic additives, few have been widely studied, let alone regulated. A treaty must address plastic’s toxic burden.


Plastic and Climate Change/Los plásticos y el cambio climático

Plastic is a significant contributor to climate change throughout its lifecycle. By 2050, emissions from plastic alone will take up over a third of the remaining carbon budget for a 1.5 °C target. A plastics treaty must impose legally-binding plastic reduction targets.


Chemical “Recycling” and Plastic-to-Fuel

Faced with increasing pressure from lawmakers and civil society to reduce plastic production and greater awareness of the limits of mechanical recycling, the petrochemical industry has been peddling chemical “recycling” and “plastic-to-fuel” as a primary solution to plastic pollution. However, after billions of dollars and decades of development, these approaches do not work as advertised. A plastics treaty stands to be undermined if it embraces these industry-backed false solutions.


Waste Incineration and Burning Waste in Cement Kilns

Burning waste emits climate pollution and other toxic chemicals, and is the least energy-efficient and most costly method of energy production. A plastics treaty must adopt a moratorium on new incinerators and encourage a roadmap to phase out all existing incinerators by 2030.


Burning Waste in Cement Kilns

Burning plastic in cement kilns results in toxic emissions, threatening the health of workers, communities and the environment, especially in low-income countries in the Global South. Widespread burning of waste in cement kilns would also worsen the already devastating carbon footprint of the cement industry. A plastics treaty must phase out burning plastic waste in cement kilns.


Plastic Neutrality and Credit

The global plastics treaty provides an important opportunity to officially discourage or ban the use of plastic credits before they become widespread. Doing so would avoid the incredible amount of regulatory oversight needs —both in the private and public sectors— to organize and
manage international plastic credit markets. The collective efforts could be better spent on reducing plastic production rapidly.


Zero Waste Finance

A transition from a plastic-reliant economy toward a circular zero waste economy requires effective mobilization and allocation of financial resources. Public and private finance have distinct and intersecting roles to play in supporting and scaling up innovations for waste prevention, redesign, alternative delivery and reuse systems as well as improving existing waste collection and recycling systems.


Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies seek to improve the environmental and social performance of products by holding producers and brand owners accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products. The global plastics treaty must embed well-designed EPR policies in it, guiding producers to prioritize upstream solutions.



The global Plastics Treaty must focus on plastic reduction and reuse, instead of substituting a plastic single-use item for a bio-based, biodegradable, or compostable one.


No More Empty Promises

By Ndyamuhaki Isaac, Green Africa Youth Organization Uganda, Circular Economy Programs Manager.

Uganda’s communities and people find themselves in the clutches of top-polluting corporations. Incidentally, plastic pollution is an injustice to the environment, wildlife, climate, human health and general social life, making it a growing global problem. Research shows that approximately 7 billion of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced between 1950-2017 became plastic waste, ending up in landfills or dumped. Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, and directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food value chains and social well-being. 

Brand Audits elevate people’s understanding of the structural causes of plastic pollution, gather hard data proving that corporations are responsible for producing excessive amounts of single-use plastic packaging and reveal the disproportionate harm these corporations are causing to vulnerable communities. In 2018 when the first brand audit was carried out, unique achievements, challenges and breakthroughs were realized, putting a spotlight on major plastic-polluting companies across global and local scales.

End Plastic Pollution conducted a brand audit on River Rwizi in Mbarara City in 2021/ This generated significant evidence of a flowing river with plastics where 56 brands and 32 companies were identified as visibly damaging the river with plastic waste. The top polluting brands were The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsi, and BIDCO Africa, as well as Mbarara-based companies like Yausafi Ventures and Ice Love Company.

The 2022 brand audit carried out on the showers of lake victoria and Kireka landfill jointly conducted by Green Africa Youth Organization Uganda and End Plastic Pollution was the most significant year for brand audits. The global plastic pollution crisis marked the 5th Anniversary of the global brand audits. This brand revealed a remarkable consistency of results; year after year, the same Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies with the largest market share are generating the most plastics polluting the environment. A total of 32 companies were exposed, with The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsi and Unilever making the top three polluters. Six hundred fifty-six items were audited, 49% were food packaging, and 11% were personal care products. By material type, 49% of the items audited were PET, and 22% were HDPE. 

Through these brand audits, key findings contained the contribution of the brands and the key players in plastic pollution in  Kampala and Mbarara cities. A total of 1487 plastic items were collected and sorted. It was found that 137 brands produced by  39 parent companies were responsible for the plastic waste collected. By material type, 673 items were PET bottles, 424 items were HDPE bottles, and other items, including sachets and baby diapers, were 273.  The exercise also found 97 unbranded items, including plastic footwear and plastic cutlery. The Coca-Cola Company was the biggest plastic polluter with 312 items found,  followed by Pepsi with 124 items, BIDCO Africa with 115 items found,  Unilever in fourth place with 107 items and Mukwano Industries fifth with 99 items.

However, less than 10% of all the plastic ever produced globally has been recycled. According to the plastic coalition, 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels and their production is poised to quadruple by 2050. There exists, therefore, a dire need to control plastic pollution before the entire ecosystem is eaten up and rendered inhabitable. 

This audit proposed various recommendations to different stakeholders in Uganda: The corporations were recommended to freely reveal and share information about the true extent of their plastic footprint, reduce the amounts of plastics they produce and also redesign their packaging to involve reusable material. The government was recommended to hold accountable the corporate polluters, as voluntary commitments seemed to have failed; to ensure that no new plastics are produced. It was also tasked to invest in waste reduction measures and zero-waste systems that are in line with the national climate action plans. Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to life and the ecosystem. There is, therefore, a need for an immediate response, especially in holding accountable the perpetrators of plastic pollution.