The Inflation Reduction Act: A pivotal opportunity to push back against false solutions

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 ↩︎

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.


Interview with Mahesh Nakarmi by Dan Abril

Mahesh Nakarmi, professionally a Disaster Risk Management Specialist, with a qualification of Masters degree in Civil Engineering  underwent a transformative experience that led him to embrace Zero Waste. While as a co-founder of the National Kidney Center, he personally encountered the improper disposal of hazardous waste, posing significant risks to communities and waste workers. Witnessing this first hand, he felt an urgent need to take action and promote improved methods for health care waste management which was neglected during those days.

He co-founded Health Care Foundation Nepal (HECAF) in 1994 to address this and ultimately, Mahesh’s efforts in advocating for proper health care waste management prevailed. In 1999, through his efforts, the NKC became the first hospital in Nepal to disinfect the waste generated during care of the kidney patients by using autoclave as a non burn technology. So when he developed a complete health care waste management system at the center, it ultimately  resulted in the reduced quantity of waste  being sent to the landfill. His path took another turn upon meeting GAIA Asia Pacific and Health Care Without Harm. Through these organizations, Mahesh learned about non-burn and no harm approaches including Zero Waste principles and realized that what he was doing is already  Zero Waste. 

In 2020, HECAF became the Health Environment and Climate Action Foundation (HECAF360) and today has a team of 20 people coming from diverse backgrounds such as engineering, environmental science, environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, nursing, public health, and healthcare. 

We had the opportunity to chat with Mahesh and we discussed HECAF360’s journey in becoming a Zero Waste pioneer in Nepal. 

The HECAF360 Team. (Photo courtesy of HECAF360)

What are HECAF 360’s top priorities?

We work on a lot of areas and we address the gaps. These include Zero Waste, healthcare waste, hygiene, and climate resilience. It’s all interrelated. When we talk about menstrual hygiene management, we talk about women’s health and also talk about waste management. But mainly it’s all about Zero Waste and advocating for zero toxins and zero burn approaches to waste management. 

We understand that waste management is a long-term process that cannot be resolved within a short period but by adopting a Zero Waste approach we will achieve our ultimate goal of not having to send any waste to landfills. To realize our objectives, we are trying to define the role of individual citizens in the management of the waste that they generate daily, so we are exploring smart waste management solutions. Through this, we ensure that different types of waste are appropriately handled: recycling is directed to designated recycling centers, landfill waste is appropriately disposed of in landfills, and food waste is routed to food processing facilities to be converted into compost. 

An essential aspect of this system is it provides employment opportunities to waste pickers and integrates them into the waste management process.

Photo courtesy of HECAF360

What are HECAF360’s ongoing campaigns?

We have campaigns on plastic waste and water-related campaigns but everything leads to Zero Waste. You simply cannot advocate for Zero Waste without taking these issues into account. When we conduct our education campaigns in hospitals and government offices, we talk about Zero Waste and we talk at all levels from kindergarten and up, as well as from municipality to federal ministries.

What are HECAF360’s biggest accomplishments/achievements?

We have a lot of stories to share! We’re proud to have introduced Zero Waste not only in hospitals but to the rest of Nepal. We are continuously creating Zero Waste coalitions. We do not only collaborate with hospitals but through coalitions, we also bring together schools, businesses, INGOs, the government, and those working on recycling and upcycling. 

Photo courtesy of HECAF360

What challenges are you currently facing and how is the organization impacted by the COVID crisis?

In 2020, we only had a staff of about 6 to 8 people. At that time, Nepal had not yet experienced the impact of COVID-19. Then, the Minister of Health reached out to us for assistance during the evacuation of 175 students studying in Wuhan, where the pandemic began.

We responded to the call and we took on the challenge and designed a comprehensive waste management system in collaboration with the army, police, the civil aviation authority, and airlines. Our efforts extended from managing waste at airports and handling quarantine centers. 

In this endeavor, we partnered with the Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan to facilitate the donations, which involved 10 charter flights. However, there are several challenges in the process. To provide support for waste management in hospitals and donate essential items like ventilators, oxygen concentrators, High Flow Nasal Cannula, and personal protective equipment (PPEs), we were required to have special permission from the government. Though it was a significant challenge, we persevered, and worked closely with authorities and handed over all these items to the Ministry of Health and Population.

With the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Population and with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nepal, GiZ Nepal, and the Swiss Government; the HECAF360 team worked at the government health facilities around the clock to improve waste management systems.  Working around these challenges not only strengthened our resolve but also made life more interesting. Despite the risks brought by the pandemic, our staff felt a sense of fulfillment in being able to contribute to the community by providing food relief for needy people in different communities. It provided an opportunity to learn and collaborate with our waste pickers. We were successful in providing a little support to the waste pickers.

Overall, the experience of managing waste during the COVID-19 crisis offered unique learning experiences as we worked closely with both government offices and local communities.

Photo courtesy of HECAF360

What are the main environmental issues your country or region is facing?

The current waste management situation is connected with various environmental issues, including landfills, air pollution, and river pollution, these are related to the broader problem in waste management. Our specific concern now are the chemicals leaching out of Nepal’s landfills, this has worsened the waste management issue. This has directly impacted the public health of the people residing in surrounding communities near the landfill sites. So we need to find a better solution to minimize the quantity of waste to be disposed of at the landfill by integrating waste into a circular economy through the Zero Waste Cities program. And we are actively collaborating with the local, provincial, and federal governments in search of solutions.

How do you see your HECAF360’s work evolving in the next years? 

We have identified numerous areas to focus on, and we still have many plans in progress, including improving the way we communicate our work. Our goal is to be more proactive in implementing Zero Waste systems throughout the country.

Recently, the Ministry of Health began discouraging the use of incinerators in hospitals and encouraged the use of non-burn technologies. This indicates a growing awareness and commitment to the Zero Waste approach. As such, in the coming years, we look forward to Nepal becoming more Zero Waste.

Do you collaborate with partners in other regions? If so, how?

We establish partnerships wherever we go. We want to learn from partners and they want to learn from us. One example is when we went to Penang in Malaysia. At the Tzu Chi Dialysis Center in Penang,  Tzu Chi Foundation Volunteers run a waste recycling program  and the income from this program supports the operation of center and their outreach to communities in need. 

How does your work on waste relate to social justice?

We call on our right to health and a clean environment and we are also advocating for a just transition for waste pickers. Despite the challenges, we continue to push for the government to act. 

Who do you admire most in the environmental work (in your country or in the world)?

There is a lot of good environmental work being done in other countries. I have a lot of admiration for environmental groups in the Philippines for succeeding in banning incineration. There is also a lot of work being done in reclaiming rivers and bringing them to life again. That is commendable. 

HECAF360 always believes in action. That’s why we have action in our name. We don’t do a lot of writing or publishing. We don’t post a lot on social media but we have action. We have zeal for what we want to do and we will continue to do so until we bring the smile back. 

Call for funding: 

Currently, HECAF360 lacks the necessary resources to fund their policy work. Support HECAF360 and their goal of achieving a Zero Waste Nepal, email HECAF360 at or visit their website at

Greenish, our friends from Egypt rooted in environmental sustainability and creative community-empowered climate action, were the co-organisers of the apprising Grün Fête Festival, which took place from 22nd – 24th June 2023 at Al-Azhar park – Cairo, Egypt, where 5000+ people participated. 

Greenish is a foundation that aims to achieve sustainable development through interactive educational activities and environmental assessment services and provide support to local communities vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. 

The Grün Fete de La Musique is the place where good music meets a good cause, where many players in the environmental sustainability sector convene and take the agenda forward. The event was initiated by the French Institute, Goethe Institut, Orient Production, Makan Aamm and Greenish. The Grün Fête consisted of entertaining performances amidst a series of workshops and discussions around key environmental issues like climate change and zero waste.

During the event, Greenish was responsible for coordinating the environmental and sustainability aspect of the festival under the theme of Climate Adaptation. The main topic discussions around this theme included: day one, how do we adapt;  day two, mobility and transportation; and day three, what is the next step. The full agenda is available via this link

“At the event, we effectively addressed key issues through accessible panel discussions that were presented in a language easily understood by all attendees. These discussions encouraged active participation and allowed the audience to share their opinions. Additionally, the inclusion of captivating musical performances played a vital role in attracting a larger audience to the festival, creating an enjoyable and engaging atmosphere” Alaaedeen Tawfik, Brand Manager at Greenish.

Greenish shares 5 tips for organisations looking for innovative ways to spread their message about environmental sustainability. 

  1. Engage and involve the audience: Find interactive and participatory ways to involve your audience in the message. Encourage discussions, gather feedback, and create a sense of community around the cause.
  2. Utilise storytelling: Craft compelling narratives that connect with people on an emotional level. Use storytelling techniques to communicate the importance of environmental sustainability and its impact on people’s lives.
  3. Collaborate with diverse partners: Seek partnerships with different organisations, artists, influencers, and experts to bring a fresh perspective and reach a wider audience. Collaboration can create a more dynamic and impactful message.
  4. Make it fun and relatable: Create events and activities that are enjoyable, engaging, and relatable to the target audience. Infuse creativity, humour, and entertainment to make the message more approachable and memorable.
  5. Leverage digital platforms: Utilise social media, online platforms, and digital marketing strategies to reach a broader audience. Use captivating visuals, videos, and interactive content to generate interest and encourage sharing.

For more information on Greenish, visit their website:


Environmentalists worldwide are stepping up their efforts to call businesses and global leaders to phase out single-use plastic (SUP) to address plastic pollution and the climate crises.  Onsite and online actions are organized in key cities around the world on January 6 to mount the Refuse Single Use Day. 

Led by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Zero Waste youth, and their allies expressed their demand to eliminate the production of SUPs. Around 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, yet less than 10 percent are recycled. Continued plastic production and consumption heats up global climate temperatures, depletes our resources, intoxicates the environment and creates public health issues, feeds incinerators, and chokes landfills and oceans. The most problematic form of plastic is SUP  meant for one-time use such as cups, cutleries, bottle drinks, plastic stirrers and plastic bags. 

Refuse Single Use Day is the opening of International Zero Waste Month (IZWM) as GAIA together with its members and allies,  doubled down on their commitment to creating a global movement that puts an end to waste pollution. The IZWM is a historic moment for the movement, built on its decades-long campaign to design and manage products and to avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste materials.

Back in 2014, then Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III designated the month of January of every year as National Zero Waste Month through Presidential Proclamation No. 760. The observance also coincides with the signing anniversary of the Philippine Republic Act 9003 known as the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000”. Both efforts were envisioned to address waste pollution.

Fast forward to 2020, GAIA Asia Pacific led the Zero Waste Month celebration in the region culminating in a global celebration this 2023.

Kicking the month-long celebration of Zero Waste wins, the 1st ever Refuse Single-Use Day is envisioned to galvanize leaders to declare a phase-out of SUPs and craft an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty. Refuse Single-Use Day is designed to coincide with the IZWM to underscore the importance of paving the path towards a Zero Waste future. 

With the theme Zero Waste to Zero Emissions, this month-long celebration hopes to highlight the connection between waste and climate, and highlight proven Zero Waste solutions as powerful climate action. Implementing Zero Waste strategies can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from waste of up to an average of 84%.

This Refuse Single-Use Day, GAIA Asia Pacific is posing the challenge not only to individuals but also to communities, organizations, and institutions to take the pledge and take action for the environment. It’s time to refuse and say no to single-use cups, cutlery, plastic bags, and more.  Share your stories on our Facebook page. 

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Rappler (Philippines), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 


GAIA is a network of grassroots groups as well as national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries. For more information, visit or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok


Sonia G. Astudillo, Senior Communications Officer, +63 9175969286,

Dan Abril, Communications Associate, 

Lifting the fog of the past that is 2020 and the seemingly unprecedented effect of government lockdowns and people staying inside their homes, experts have noticed a slight improvement in our air quality. At the start of the lockdowns, daily global carbon emissions went down by 17% starting April of the same year as compared to 2019. Researchers, however, put an underscore on the word temporary

Temporary, because fossil fuel industries, including big plastic producers, have not really moved nor changed ways. As a derivative of the fossil fuel industry, plastic has a large carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle.  Some are even taking advantage of the situation by pushing for band-aid solutions to the waste and plastic pollution crisis, and governments influenced by these corporations are swaying in the wrong direction. Everything just goes back to where it was, which entirely misses an opportunity we could have all achieved – Zero Waste.

Instead of just pausing on environmentally-damaging practices, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific is using the strength of the movement to celebrate the International Zero Waste Month this January. Leveraging its wide international network, GAIA boldly takes the lead to put genuine Zero Waste work into action in spite of the many false narratives fed by corporations, international financing institutions, and other governing bodies. Through science-based and proven solutions to waste, the alliance works on the premise that Zero Waste opens up opportunities to address bigger climate challenges. Zero Waste is climate action, and the Zero Waste Month with its theme “Zero Waste for Zero Emission” hopes to show just that. 

Zero, then a Hero: What People Can Expect

GAIA and its members lined up initiatives to educate and spark conversations about waste management solutions. From gatherings, to forging alliances, to film festivals, and more. Through a showcase of ​​results-backed learning from experts and experienced individuals from around the world, the alliance aims to send the message that Zero Waste is one of the critical ways to achieve zero emissions, waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration is a false solution and a step backward, and that Zero Waste systems ensure just transition for all.

Here’s a quick look of the event highlights throughout the month of January here in the Philippines and across the region:

  • Refuse Single-Use Day  India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, January 6)
  • Zero Waste Olympiad (Philippines, January 6)
  • Zero Waste Film Fest – Digital (Online, January 9-31) 
  • Davao People’s Forum on Alternatives for WtE Incineration (Philippines, January 9)
  • Launch of Zero Waste Journalist Network – Asia Pacific (Online, January 19)
  • Brand Audit and Waste Assessment (Philippines, January 25)
  • Media Briefing (Philippines, January 24)
  • International Zero Waste Cities Conference (Philippines, January 26-27)
  • Launch of Zero Waste Cities Network (Philippines, January 26)
  • Organics Fair (Philippines, January 26)
  • Zero-Waste Film Fest (India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam)
  • Zero Waste Tour (Philippines, January 28)
  • Waste Worker Appreciation Day (Philippines, January 28)
  • Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) Talk (Indonesia)
  • Campaign for Sustainable Glove Purchasing for Health Facilities (Southeast Asia) 
  • Clean-up and Waste Assessment and Brand Audit (Cambodia, India) 
  • Freedom in A Cup Fundraising Launch (Philippines) 

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible through the generous support of the Plastic Solutions Fund, in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 

Zero Waste Month celebrations originated in the Philippines in 2012 when youth leaders issued a Zero Waste Youth Manifesto calling for, among other things, the celebration of a Zero Waste Month. This was made official when Presidential Proclamation No. 760 was issued, declaring January as Zero Waste Month in the Philippines. It was then promoted widely by NGOs and communities that had already adopted this approach to manage their waste.

GAIA is a network of grassroots groups as well as national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries.

For more information, visit or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok


Sonia G. Astudillo, Senior Communications Officer, +63 9175969286

GAIA Delegation Reflection on Achievements and Shortfalls at COP27

By Mariel Vilella, Climate Program Director, with contributions from GAIA staff and members

  • General Summary The development at negotiations was an agreement to a Loss and Damage Fund, which although empty and low on specifics, is an important step forward for climate justice in the Global South. READ MORE
  • Highlights on Waste Management The Global Methane Pledge was expanded, but still lacking in implementation. Egypt released its 50 by 2050 Initiative to treat or recycle 50% of waste in the region by 2050. READ MORE
  • GAIA’s Impact at COP27 GAIA had a robust international delegation to uplift zero waste as a key climate solution. We hosted and spoke at over a dozen panels, press conferences, and country pavilions reaching national delegates, climate NGOs, media, and other influencers with our key messages. READ MORE
  • Member Reflections on COP27 Members of GAIA’s delegation share their thoughts on what COP27 means in the broader fight to stop waste and climate pollution and build zero waste solutions. READ MORE

General Summary

Loss and Damage Demonstration in the COP27 Blue Zone. Photo courtesy of Sami Dellah.

In general terms, COP27 will be remembered for the agreement to a Loss and Damage Fund to support vulnerable nations. The Fund, despite coming empty and without much clarity on exactly who will pay for what and where, it’s a major achievement credited to all the civil society organisations and vulnerable countries in the Global South that have been demanding it for decades. Indeed, it is a first step towards securing the provision of rescue and rebuilding support to areas stricken by climate change impacts, and can be seen as the opening of a space for cooperation between developed and developing countries.

On the other hand, COP27 did not advance any further ambition to reduce GHG emissions and close the existing gap between current national pledges and the Paris Agreement goal –  analysis shows that the world is still on track to 2.4°C by 2100 (unchanged from last year). After last year’s unambitious round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), countries pledged to bring new, more ambitious plans this year. But few did and, while the goal of keeping the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees is still formally in place, it is slipping farther out of reach. The final text fails to provide a stronger mandate on how to get there, reflecting a failure of the “ratchet mechanism,” the Paris Agreement’s fundamental lever to increase ambition over time. Once again, the core of the stagnant negotiation is related to the use of fossil fuels, with countries blaming each other for failing to cut ties with these polluting energy sources particularly in rich countries of the Global North, which continue to avoid their historic responsibility in causing climate change in the first place. This historic divide may play out even more significantly next year, where the COP will be hosted by the petro-state UAE. 

While there was no language on phasing down fossil fuels at COP27, countries have another opportunity this week at the global plastics treaty INC1 to advance a restriction on the production of plastic, which would effectively deliver a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. 

On the climate finance front, COP 27 called for the need to transform international financial institutions (MDBs, IFIs) to align their practices and priorities with much-needed climate action– a development that could pose an opportunity to drive climate finance in the waste sector and phase out support for polluting waste disposal industries. Recent remarkable examples of this trend have been the European Investment Bank and the EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance, which have excluded waste-to-energy incineration for its negative impacts on climate change and circular economy. Other financial institutions e.g. ADB or IDB, still overly reliant on waste disposal technologies, could indeed help the climate by responding to this call and aligning their climate policies with the Waste Hierarchy. Moreover, climate finance advocates reminded parties that international climate flows are way too small compared to the needs of developing countries which amounts to trillions of dollars per year, with a growing concern that carbon offsets are being presented as the solution to finance the energy transition in developing countries when they should be treated as a form of climate colonialism.

Last but not least, an important general consideration worth noting was that the COP was hosted by a repressive state, with such a critical track record of human rights violations, which brought issues around freedom of speech and political prisoners to the forefront of the climate battle. Also, the reported surveillance, the ever-increasing presence of fossil fuels lobbyists, and questions over Coca-Cola’s sponsorship contributed to an atmosphere that felt hostile to civil society. Ultimately, the fact that the traditional climate justice march could only be hosted within the UN territory was a testimony of how civil liberties were limited and severely restricted, signaling the interconnections between climate chaos and authoritarianism

Highlights on waste management

The agenda for waste management at COP27 had remarkably high stakes – considering that waste has never really been at the centre of the climate negotiations previously. This time, two main global policy initiatives – the Global Methane Pledge and the Egypt-hosted Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050 – put waste into the spotlight in an unprecedented way, pushing a wide range of organisations, researchers and policy-makers to reflect on the interlinkages between waste and climate change, and engaging with the GAIA delegation like never before. 

The Global Methane Pledge

The Global Methane Pledge (GMP), launched at COP26 and supported by more than a hundred countries that pledged to cut collective methane emissions 30% by 2030, renewed its momentum and increased the number of committed countries. At the high-level ministerial hosted by CATF, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans launched a joint statement to mobilise further support for the Global Methane Pledge. Twenty four new countries announced that they will join the Global Methane Pledge, increasing the total number to more than 150 countries. Of those 150, many countries have developed national methane action plans or are in the process of doing so, with progress being made on new pathways to drive emissions reductions from the energy, agriculture, and waste sectors. From GAIA’s point of view, the renewed commitment to the GMP is worth celebrating, yet it remains  to be seen how it will be implemented in the waste sector (read our reaction here).

The new Global Methane Pledge Pathway on waste includes five strategies (see full details here): 

  • Enhancing Measurement and Tracking: with several initiatives undertaken by Carbon Mapper, RMI, and CATF are looking at identifying critical sources of methane in landfills and dumpsites and leveraging the data to drive the policy-making towards methane emissions reductions. 
  • Scaling up Subnational Action: the new initiative Subnational Climate Action Leaders Exchange (SCALE), supported by the U.S. State Department and Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to help cities, states, and regions develop and implement methane reduction plans. This initiative complements the Pathway Towards Zero Waste joined by 13 cities at the October 2022 C40 World Mayors Summit. 
  • Reducing Food Loss and Waste: several initiatives are aiming to act on food loss and waste, including the set up of a Food Waste Management Accelerator in 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; a new effort to quantify and track food banking methane mitigation with the Global Food Banking Network; plus other projects on food loss by IDB and the USAID, scaling up efforts in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, and/or Tanzania.
  • Regional Platforms: at the regional level, the IDB is planning to fund methane reduction projects in Latin America and the Caribbean and will be launching the Too Good to Waste facility to implement waste projects related to methane mitigation.
  • Mobilising Investment: the implementation of the GMP Waste Pathway will require  scaling up investment in waste methane abatement, which so far it has involved the Government of Canada, the U.S. government, the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Global Methane Hub, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

Importantly, the methane reductions pledges have been followed by more than 20 philanthropies announcing combined commitments of over $200 million to support implementation of the Global Methane Pledge. This funding will “build upon and sustain action from civil society, government, and private industry, including in the more than 100 countries that have signed on to the Pledge by meaningfully investing in methane reduction solutions.”

The Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050
GAIA delegates and allies speaking at a press conference on the 50 by 2050 Initiative at COP27

The host nation Egypt launched the Global Waste Initiative during COP27, aiming to catalyse both adaptation and mitigation solutions by treating and recycling 50% of the waste produced in Africa by 2050. In a series of workshops held at the Green Zone, the Egypt government fleshed out some of the vision behind this initiative. 

The GAIA Delegation, including several representatives from GAIA Africa membership that has been following this policy process for several months, engaged in conversations with the representatives from the Egypt government and reiterated the recommendations that had already been submitted in previous occasions. 

In the first place, the 50 by 2050 initiative needs an accurate baseline for recycling rates in the African continent as recycling infrastructure and waste collection varies significantly. Moreover, the initiative must clearly define the technologies accepted under the “recycling” umbrella to avoid promoting false solutions such as waste-to-energy incineration and waste trade as acceptable remedies to the plastic crisis, ignoring the fact that these only perpetuate historical injustice and concentration of power and wealth. Waste management in Africa has the potential to generate employment opportunities for vulnerable populations and to recognize the contribution of waste pickers and waste cooperatives to waste recovery rates. Before focusing on a 50% target recycling rate, 50 by 2050 should define, in a consultative process with input from multiple countries and the civil society, the means by which that rate will be pursued.

Furthermore, there needs to be a mechanism at each national level where the critical stakeholders in the waste sector are informing the best national approaches and how best they can transpose this regional effort into local action. Waste pickers and other GAIA members in those countries who are championing zero waste initiatives are best placed to help Africa achieve the ambition of this initiative and they are the local experts we should be taking advice from and not multinational corporations from the Global North whose only objective here is to promote false solutions and keep Africa trapped and perpetuating this cycle of waste colonialism. 

GAIA’s impact at COP27

Member Joe Bongay (The Gambia) Speaking on a Panel at COP27

The COP27 GAIA Delegation engaged at COP27 to promote zero waste solutions as essential tools for climate mitigation and adaptation, particularly for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. GAIA also hosted and our delegation spoke at over a dozen official side events and at other events and Pavilions within the official COP27 venue, reaching hundreds of people spanning from national delegates, climate NGOs, media, and other influencers with our key messages.

We had a Zero Waste Hub to engage the general public at COP, with a “Gallery of Zero Waste Solutions to Climate Change” and a “Gallery of Climate Trash,” sparking conversations with other members of civil society on the connection between waste and climate.

GAIA Press Conference on 50 by 2050. From left: Niven Reddy (South Africa), Rizk Youssef Hanna (Egypt), Ubrie-Joe Maimoni (Nigeria), Bubacar Zaidi (The Gambia)

We held a press conference on the Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050, raising the voices of local waste pickers as well as African government officials and activists on the key ingredients for a successful zero waste initiative in the region. 

Luyanda Hlatshwayo, Global Alliance of Waste Pickers (South Africa)

We held polluters accountable for their role at the COP, including calling out Coca Cola’s sponsorship, and the failure of the COP’s waste management systems, calling on the UNFCCC to do better. See our video!

Speakers on GAIA’s Zero Waste Cities Side Event. From left: Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, (British Columbia, Canada), Dr. Atiq Zaman, Senior Lecturer, Curtin University (Australia), Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator, (The Philippines), Ana Le Rocha, Executive Director, Nipe Fagio, (Tanzania), Luyanda Hlatshwayo, Global Alliance of Waste Pickers (South Africa)Iryna Myronova, Executive Director, Zero Waste Lviv, (Ukraine) 

We organised two official side events on the importance of zero waste as a climate solution, in collaboration with key partners such as World Biogas Association, Pesticide Action Network, WRAP UK, Curtin University, Thanal Trust, Toxics Link, amongst others. The events were recorded and are accessible on the links below:

Just Transition to Zero Waste Cities: A Key Strategy to Deliver the Paris Agreement

Methane from the waste sector: opportunities and challenges to deliver the Global Methane Pledge

We also organised a panel on global frontline responses to plastic and petrochemical pollution at COP’s first ever Climate Justice Pavilion and another panel of grassroots perspective on waste management and climate justice with a focus on Africa in the CSO Hub, the outside-COP space organised by civil society.

Nazir Khan, MN Environmental Justice Table (USA)
Davo Simplice Vodouhe, OBEPAB, PAN (Benin)
Victor Argentino, Instituto Polis (Brazil)
Desmond Alugnoa, GAIA Africa (Ghana)


The GAIA Delegation at COP27
From left: Members Ana le Rocha (Tanzania) and Victor Argentino (Brazil) at GAIA’s Zero Waste Hub in the COP27 venue

We engaged with national delegates from key countries (for example, Brazil), hand-delivering our recent Zero Waste to Zero Emissions report to government leaders. 

Member Ana le Rocha presenting a GAIA report to Marina Silva, former Brazilian Minister of the Environment

We participated in the climate justice march held at the UN COP27 venue and strengthened our links and global coordination on waste and the climate justice movement.  

GAIA at the Climate March

We collaborated with Changing Markets Foundation, EIA and the Chile official government delegation to present and discuss the findings of the report Methane Matters at the official side event:

Methane matters: towards a global methane agreement

Within the UN blue zone, we participated in 16 side events and discussed a wide range of topics relevant to waste management and climate (in chronological order):

  • Zero waste strategies support climate change adaptation and emergency situations at Waste of War: Challenges for Ukraine, Impact on Environment and Climate, at the Ukraine Pavilion. 
  • Zero waste and waste colonialism at the side event Climate Justice vs. False Corporate Schemes, hosted at the Climate Justice Pavilion. 
  • Promotion of sustainable municipal solid waste management and the transition to a low-carbon economy, hosted by Vanke Foundation at the China Pavilion.
  • Just Transition: providing decent work and quality jobs are tools for climate policy implementation, organised by Blue Green Alliance and International Trade Union Confederation 
  • Cross Regional Synergy for Youth-Led Climate Solutions, at the Cryosphere Pavilion.
  • The role of civil society in climate adaptation/ disaster risk management, at the Locally Led Adaptation Pavilion.
  • Youth for Climate Justice: Reflection on COP27 and Beyond, at the Zimbabwe Pavilion. 
  • Big Picture Solutions for the Future of Preventing Food Waste, at the Food4Climate Pavilion
  • Waste Diversion and Segregation, a huge opportunity for methane mitigation, and a challenge for ambitious public policy and subnational implementation, organised by the Global Methane HUb at the Climate Action Pavilion. 
  • Best practices on single use plastic reduction at the UAE Pavilion. 
  • Exposing fashion brands’ hidden links to Russian oil in a time of war, at the Ukrainian Pavilion. 
  • Scaling up local voices and solutions from urban informal settlements: Governance and finance models that advance climate justice and urban resilience, at the Resilience Hub Pavillion. 

Reflections on COP27 from our Membership

Victor H. Argentino M. Vieira – Zero Waste Advisor and Researcher – Polis Institute, São Paulo, Brazil

The COP27 was my first COP and an amazing experience, thanks to GAIA and all our delegation! Unfortunately, the amazingness does not come from the results of the climate negotiations, political will or the hope that COP is the arena for effective social participation yet. Actually, it comes from the meetings with different people from all over the world doing amazing work that fuel our hope to go forward in the climate justice struggle. It shows us that no matter the insensibility of political leaders and ineffectiveness of current politics, when organised we are the real change we need which is happening despite these. The changes are happening, not in the speed we need, but by the people who need the most. The day the neediest people are properly represented at COP is arriving, and this day will be a turning point in the climate agenda. Together and connected we are stronger, our role is to keep pushing forward and fighting for the future we want and the future we need!

Nazir Khan, Campaigns Director with Minnesota Environmental Justice Table, Minneapolis, US. 

If we are pinning our hopes to address the climate emergency on the UNFCCC, we truly are in grave and profound danger. What I saw at COP27 was a feeding frenzy of false solutions and disaster capitalism (first day: Egypt Pavilion proudly discussing “Decarbonizing Oil and Gas Sector”); unceasing obstruction and time-wasting on the part of the global north, especially the United States; and a framework that simply is not working to address this emergency. Without significant structural change to the United Nations itself, I cannot see how these state-state negotiations can work. And even that may not be enough at this point. 

The glimmers of hope I felt arose because of the unrelenting and courageous protests and clarion calls of civil society and social movements, as well as the united stands of the global south, G77 in particular, again and again in negotiations. I could not help but think of the once-powerful Third World movement— which gave the United Nations the few teeth it has. And I could not help but remember Egypt’s own Gamal Abdul Nasser, one of the great leaders of the Third World movement. I believe it is this long history of struggle against colonization that laid the foundation for the one victory emerging from COP27—the Loss and Damage fund. We will see whether this fund is real or becomes yet another unfulfilled promise and failed commitment. But the united stands of G77 and the tireless work of social movements, I believe, are our best hope for addressing this crisis. And those of us within the United States must do everything in our power to support them.

Ana Le Rocha, Executive Director of Nipe Fagio, Tanzania, Steering Committee member of Break Free from Plastic. 

As I celebrated 30 years of activism at COP27 I experienced inspirational moments as well as frustration with the limited progress on climate action. I admire the strength and resilience of climate and human rights activists standing in power despite the limited freedom of speech and the disconnection between our demands and the outcomes of the negotiations being held by member states. The split was unapologetically felt in the way that the spaces were organized and protests were restricted. On the other hand, the rooms were also filled with representatives of the power structures responsible for the climate crisis that we are in, and watching companies and countries in the Global North insist on relying on the resources of the Global South to enable their wealth was painful. 30 years later, I keep myself accountable to the girl inside me, who became an activist at Rio 1992 with very ambitious dreams. The need for environmental activism never decreases, it only grows stronger. Connecting global advocacy with local action is  a powerful strategy to drive change.”

Iryna Mironova, Zero Waste Liviv and co-founder of Zero Waste Ukraine Alliance

Iryna: Not only was this my first COP, it was also the first time my country, Ukraine, had its own pavilion, which told the world the story of how its precious black soils are impacted by war. At various events I presented local cases from the Ukrainian city of Lviv, which despite the war continues its way to zero waste and zero emissions. I got a unique chance to contribute to the discussions on the intersection of world food security caused by war, methane emissions and waste management, and local climate policies. COP is mainly about global policies that leave many communities around the world feeling unheard and out-powered to act even if their representatives and NGOs have the opportunity to observe the COP negotiations. Working together with the GAIA delegation, we showcased how zero waste is a powerful tool to act on climate change on all levels and cross-sectionally. Many cities have more ambitious climate, targets and plans than countries,  but the risks and damage costs are higher for them as well. I would like to see more cities’ leadership and voices at the next COP pressuring their countries’ representatives on more ambitious targets and commitments together with NGOs on behalf of citizens. 

The Ministerial announced that 150 countries have signed the Pledge which was launched at the Glasgow Climate Summit last year.

It also announced that 95% of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) include methane or will do so by the next revision, and that 50 countries have developed national methane plans or plan to do so.

These 50 countries include Brazil, Vietnam, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, US and the EU – which represents 27 Member States – that have published plans in the last year. A further 10 countries – Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Malta, and Togo have committed to publish plans by COP28. The UK has published a methane memorandum.

The Ministerial also launched a waste and agriculture pathway to tackle emissions in these sectors. The agriculture pathway is largely focused on improving productivity and efficiency of livestock production which will not impact emissions if livestock numbers continue to grow.

Experts say governments are making progress but lack a sense of urgency and need to focus on phasing out the major sources of methane – fossil fuels, industrial livestock farming and landfilling of organic waste – rather than the technical fixes and voluntary initiatives offered under the Pledge.

Tackling methane – a short lived but potent greenhouse gas – is key to limiting global heating to 1.5C

Spokespeople and their contacts

Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at Changing Markets said:

“Where is the sense of urgency? Governments must move faster to cut emissions if they are to deliver on the Pledge. 2030 is just eight years away and the window of opportunity is closing.
Getting to grips with livestock methane is critical. Our research shows that just 15 meat and dairy companies emit more methane than Russia or Germany. Governments need to back a shift away from the mass industrial production of livestock – not pin their hopes and our future on voluntary net zero targets that enable these companies to carry on with business as usual.”

Contact at COP27:, WhatsApp +44 7479 015 909, interviews in French and English. Emissions Impossible; Methane Edition which calculates the methane emissions of 15 meat and dairy companies for the first time is available here.

Mariel Vilella, Global Climate Program Director at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said:

“While we welcome the fact that governments are starting to acknowledge the outsized importance of addressing methane, the lack of action on waste frankly stinks. 20% of all methane emissions primarily comes from throwing organic waste into landfills. Therefore the simplest, easiest, fastest solution is not fancy tech-fixes, but to stop putting organic waste in landfills in the first place. With the right strategies in place, we can reduce methane emissions in the waste sector by as much as 95% by 2030, which is an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss.”

Contact at COP: Mariel Vilella or +44 7847 079154

Kim O’Dowd, Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency said:

“We have only a few years to give humanity a shot at staying within a 1.5°C global temperature rise and we have no time for more pledges or declarations. What the world desperately needs now are real actions and commitments – something far more meaningful to address the ongoing crisis. We cannot wait for another Climate Summit to deliver on the promises made with the Global Methane Pledge. Negotiations for a global methane agreement have to start now, with concrete and binding objectives, mandatory reporting, monitoring and verification, national actions plans and targeted financial support to ensure implementation.”

Contact at COP: or WhatsApp +4736898907

Press contacts:

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead | +1 973 444 4869


Carissa Marnce, Africa Communications Coordinator | +27 76 934 6156


GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. 

Waste is Third Largest Source of Anthropogenic Methane Emissions Globally

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11 November 2022, 12 pm EET

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt –The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) held a press conference along with Friends of the Earth Nigeria at COP27 to provide civil society’s perspective on Egypt’s impending announcement of its Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050. The initiative sets the ambition to recycle and  treat at least 50% of waste produced in Africa by 2050. 

In this press conference, civil society and diverse experts including climate justice groups, waste picker organizers and government leaders from across the African continent emphasized the potential of waste reduction and management for climate adaptation and mitigation.

“The 50 by 2050 initiative provides us with an opportunity to scale zero waste systems for climate action in Africa and around the globe. However this initiative can only be effective if it includes organic waste management, inclusion and recognition of waste pickers, and phase out of residual waste and fundamentally moving away from incineration and other climate-polluting waste management practices that aren’t meant for Africa,” said Niven Reddy, Regional Coordinator for GAIA Africa.

Waste will be critical on the COP27 agenda as countries discuss ways to reach the Global Methane Pledge, which recognises that reducing methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas over 80 times as potent as CO2, is critical to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C.  Waste is the third largest anthropogenic source of methane, primarily from landfilling organic waste. 122 countries have committed to tackling this greenhouse gas globally.

The Global Methane Pledge and the Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050 both signal how countries are recognizing the potential of ‘zero waste’ to help meet climate targets affordably and effectively. Introducing better waste management policies such as waste separation, recycling, and composting could cut total emissions from the waste sector by more than 1.4 billion tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of 300 million cars – or taking all motor vehicles in the U.S. off the road for a year.   

The climate crisis has exacerbated impacts in Africa, making the need for adaptation measures more acute. Loss and damage financing and climate investments for zero waste systems in Africa can both boost climate resilience, redress historical inequities, and support local economies.

African communities are spearheading zero waste projects for adaptation, recognising the current realities they are faced with. One such strategy, composting, reduces pollution, prevents disease vectors like mosquitos and vermin, and boosts soil resilience, which helps combat flooding and droughts that threaten food security. 

Bubacar Jallow, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change & Natural Resources in The Gambia, explained: “What some may call waste is actually an incredible resource for the climate and public health. Composting food waste creates an effective fertilizer that can support greater food security in The Gambia in the face of a changing climate.”

If this initiative prioritizes the rights of waste pickers, it could also have a tremendous impact on the thousands of people working in the informal sector in the region. Waste pickers in Africa play a key role towards mitigating climate change by collecting and selling waste as a livelihood strategy, which increases recycling and reduces raw material extraction. 

Wastepicker Rizk Yosif Hanna stated: “In Egypt, the Zabaleen community recycles more than 50% of the waste they collect, and therefore must be taken into consideration. Any step in Egypt and in Africa as a whole should be built on the accumulated knowledge that exists in the informal sector, and integrate waste pickers into the decision-making and implementation.”

However, all efforts to manage waste will be fruitless unless there is a strong focus on source reduction, particularly for plastic, which is made from fossil fuels. If plastic’s life cycle were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. 

Ubrei-Joe Ubrei-Joe Maimoni Mariere, Regional Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Africa said: “Recycling alone is not enough to address the global waste crisis. For recycling to be effective, African countries need to  start attacking sources of raw material extraction, stopping single-use plastic and reducing waste at the source.”


For a full list of events and spokespeople available for interview, please see our press kit:

We have recently launched a new report titled ‘Zero Waste to Zero Emissions’.  The report provides the clearest and most comprehensive evidence to date of how zero waste is critical to the climate fight, while building resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies. You can read more about it here: 

Press contacts:

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead | +1 973 444 4869


Carissa Marnce, Africa Communications Coordinator | +27 76 934 6156



GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped.