An Open Letter to the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the Philippines

We, the undersigned alliances and organizations, are deeply concerned about the integrity of the statements recently released by the Japan International Cooperation Agency for its lack of accountability on past and present efforts in promoting and investing in false solutions to waste management and climate in Davao City. In the articles, it has disclaimed its support for the WTE incinerator project as it impedes the rights of affected communities to receive adequate information, to be heard, to seek redress and file complaints to accountable institutions.

Since 2010, JICA has been instrumental in the entry of Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incinerators in Davao City. The development assistance which began as a Collaboration Program with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technology[1] commenced in March 2018 with the signing of the Japanese Government and the Republic of the Philippines of a grant agreement worth PhP 2.052 billion to fund the construction and operation of a PhP 5.23 billion WtE incinerator in the City. The remaining project cost of around PhP 3 billion will be covered by the Philippine Government which was already requested for release through a resolution by the Davao City Council in August 2022 — an amount equivalent to more than 60 percent of the entire annual budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The feasibility report of the WTE project in Davao[2] stressed that the absence of prior experience in managing and operating WTE facilities is a big hurdle in the Philippines, and the limited capacity of the municipality to cover the cost of waste treatment with WTE technology. It also added that proper legal and regulatory scheme are all required to implement the first project of full-scale WTE facility[3].

These statements indicate a recognition of the legal barriers put in place by the Filipino people through our Congress to safeguard our health and the environment as stated in the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Management Act.

Yet, JICA has continued promoting its Japanese technology despite a standing legal ban on incinerators now being defended by environmental advocates in the Supreme Court and in the midst of City-wide opposition to the project. JICA’s assistance flowed to systematically undermine the policy barriers for the entry of this Japanese technology into our waste management system. JICA has directly engaged in the development of waste management guidelines, supported interagency meetings to discuss implementation arrangements for its project[4], and facilitated learning tours of government officials and waste regulators to WTE incinerator sites in Kitakyushu City, Japan. This cooperation continued without access to information and meaningful consultations that city residents have continued to oppose[5].

As rightly identified in the feasibility study, 50% of the area is afforested or tropical forest of which 43% is used for agriculture where bananas, pineapples, coffee, and coconuts cover most of these agricultural areas. When operationalized, the WTE incinerator will produce globally known harmful byproducts such as dioxins, furans, mercury that will have dire implications to crop and soil health, air quality, the ecosystems, health and food security.

The WTE incinerator is not the answer to our City’s limited capacity for collection and segregation that was identified in the project feasibility. We would hope that development institutions like JICA see their support to capacitate our local governments to fully implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the provision of financing for existing Zero Waste systems and innovations that are deemed to be a just and more appropriate option for managing our waste.

We respectfully urge JICA to withdraw its support for Waste-to-Energy in Davao City and elsewhere in the country in respect to our ban on incinerators. We also encourage JICA to ensure transparency and accountability in their development projects to ensure that the benefits of the development vision are equitably shared with and for disadvantaged groups. ###


[1] This landing site from JICA’s website shows the agency’s involvement since 2010. https://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/social_environmental/id/asia/southeast/category_c.html

[2] Final Report. Collaboration Program with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technology for Waste-to-Energy system in Davao City published by the Republic of the Philippines Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office, May 2016

[3] Fund for P2B waste-to-energy project in Davao City still available, Manila Bulletin, 22 January 2023

[4] The Project for Capacity Development on Improving Solid Waste Management through Advanced/Innovative Technologies. DENR Newsletter January 2021

[5] Petition to Davao City Council and Mayor Sebastian Duterte “No to WTE incineration in Davao! Go for genuine zero waste solutions!” by No Burn Davao

Download our Open Letter Here.

On January 9, 2023, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific together with Ecowaste Coalition and the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) – Davao and in partnership with Ecoteneo, Masipag Mindanao, Panalipdan Youth-Davao, and Saligan-Mindanaw stood together with affected farmers, residents, and concerned members of the community as they opposed the pending construction of a waste-to-energy (WtE) incinerator in Davao City.

In August last year, the City Council of Davao unanimously approved a WtE facility funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) despite a national ban on incineration as provided for by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act. Proposed to be constructed on ten hectares in Barangay Biao Escuela in Tugbok District, the facility will stand close to the barangay’s school, agricultural lands, and a few hundred meters away from the relocation site of the affected communities.

During a people’s forum held in January 9, the organizations have spoken out against the city government’s plan for a WtE incinerator, stating that the facility will only impact people’s health and Davao’s rich biodiversity, particularly its already fragile watersheds. 

According to Gary Villocino of Masipag, a network of farmers in Davao, “The construction of this facility will not only be dangerous to people’s health but will also destroy valuable agricultural land. Land that could be used to cultivate resources for the community.”

Mark Peñalver of IDIS-Davao adds, “When it comes to WtE incineration, the bottom line is this: not only is it a dangerous way to produce energy, it’s also incredibly harmful to the environment.  What’s more, incineration is not a renewable or sustainable energy source. In fact, it actually produces more greenhouse gasses than coal. So not only is incineration a bad choice for the environment, but it’s also not a wise choice from a climate perspective.”  

Randy Catubag Irog of the Mintal Resource Collectors Association (MiRCA) in Barangay Mintal, despite fearing repercussions for disagreeing with the project, stated his disapproval and highlighted that there are more sustainable approaches that are helpful to the community and the environment. “We collect recyclables and sell them for profit and WtE will only teach future generations to be lazy as it undermines recycling efforts if waste can be simply burned away.”    

Communities cited that the City’s waste composition is 50 percent organic waste which cannot be burned in the proposed type of WtE technology. Advocates point out that the WtE project is also not a financially viable project for JICA, the city government and the private sector. 

Peter Damary of the start-up enterprise, Limadol, shared that Davao needs to focus on segregation at source.  “Davao’s case, around 50  percent of waste is composed of food waste. If removed from the waste stream through composting, it eases the burden on landfills and leaves other waste available for recycling. Further, the environmental value composting  contributes to methane reduction can not be ignored.”

Citing the efforts of other barangays in the country, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Zero Waste Coordinator in the Philippines, Archie Abellar shares that individuals and communities in Davao are similarly gradually adapting Zero Waste strategies to combat waste. From composting to opting for refills instead of single-use plastics or sachets, there is a conscious effort from the grassroots to veer away from practices that harm the planet.

He concludes, “WtE incineration is a band-aid solution and will only make matters worse in the long run. JICA has not examined existing options on waste management in the City and have promoted an expensive and harmful technology. We call on JICA and the local government to support zero waste systems as they offer  inclusive, effective and sustainable approach to the City’s waste problem .”

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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. 

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.

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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 www.no-burn.org or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: Facebook,  Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

CONTACT

Dan Abril I Communications Associate I Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) – Pacific I dan@no-burn.org I +63917 419 4426

Archie Abellar I Zero Waste Philippine Coordinator I Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) – Pacific I archie@no-burn.org I +63908 770 0681

14 December 2022

Dear Director Mark Kunzer,
Transaction Support Division of Private Sector Operations Department

Thank you for the response letter dated 7 November 2022. However, we found it fails to address the key concerns regarding the approval of this project: 

  1. ADB approved the project against the stated order of priorities stated in the ADB Energy Policy when utilizing waste for energy 

The utilization of waste for energy is at the bottom of priorities in the ADB Energy Policy. Before waste is utilized, ADB must ensure that WTE projects come only in a local context where the waste system follows a management option that prioritizes the most environmentally and socially desirable option to ensure that the least preferred options are not necessary. As stated in the ADB Energy Policy, “first reducing waste generation, then exploiting the options for reusing and recycling materials, then using waste to recover energy or usable materials, followed by sanitary engineered landfilling as the last option.” 

This language ensures that prevention of waste is a priority, that recyclable materials are not burned and that the WTE is the last resort – not part of a combination of waste management of options for the reason that WTE projects are pernicious to the most preferred options for waste prevention and recycling efforts, to community health, to climate and the environment. However, ADB approved the project, without this order in mind and with the framework that WTE is necessary in circularity and waste management efforts. 

In the Environmental and Social Compliance Audit Report (November 2022), the key components of this project are mixed municipal waste processing through 1) WTE incineration facility (8,400 kg/hour or 201.6 tpd); and 2) composting plant (840 tpd). While it is true that composting is part of the facility, the produced compost might be contaminated with various chemicals given the feedstock is not source-separated. However, there are no preventive measures identified to avoid compost application for food crops. The report also states that mixed waste would be separated at the facility through manual picking process. Moreover, it targets only high value recyclables and not all recyclables. There is also no explanation on the fate of non-magnetic metal. Additionally, given the feedstock is not source-separated, there would be dirty recyclable fraction which is difficult to recycle. How would this process ensure that there will be no recyclables incinerated — thereby violating a prudent order of waste management priorities?

  1. WTE incineration project component is approved although the guidance note on WTE has not been made publicly available

Without the guidance notes, there is little indication that the understanding of the waste management context and in the exploration of alternatives was ever aligned with this policy provision. 

GAIA has attended a PowerPoint of the proposed content of the guidance notes where we have expressed our critical points. In that presentation, we have already pointed out that the simulation models do not follow the hierarchy of decision in line with the order of waste management clearly stated by the ADB Energy Policy. Without the draft text, it was difficult to ascertain the alignment of the guidance notes to the Policy.

After that presentation, civil societies were not informed of the consultation process of the draft guidance note on WTE when it was made available. There was no communication on the timeline and feedback mechanism. CSOs have no information as to how the guidance notes can instruct staff on assessing the order of priority in waste management, for example. We demand the guidance notes be made available online as part of ADB’s commitment to openness and transparency. Additionally, we urge the ADB to disclose compliance indicators to the guidance note on the project data sheet. This should also be made available and accessible before the project approval stage. Without it, there is no way for civil society groups and affected communities to monitor and ensure the project complies with the screening standards outlined in the guidance note.

  1. Absence of evidence on the project as low-carbon, climate mitigating, and production of renewable energy 

WTE incineration is not a climate mitigating activity

Composting alone could solve the methane problems without the WTE incineration component. Contrary to project claims, the WTE incineration will be releasing all fossil-carbon embedded in plastic instantaneously. Plastic and other fossil-based material will not release greenhouse gases in landfill. This is contradictory to the claim that the WTE incineration will reduce 2,000 tons of CO2 per annum. According to UNEP, depending on the waste composition, waste incineration emits between 250–600 kg of fossil-CO2 per tonne of incinerated waste, which is comparable to the carbon intensity of emissions from coal combustion, and hence a significant source of GHG emissions. Burning plastic emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2e for every tonne of plastic burned. Even when energy recovered in a waste-to-energy incinerator is accounted for, burning one tonne of plastic in an incinerator still results in 1.43 tonnes of CO2e. 

Additionally, the project states that the WTE incineration will generate electrical power of 4 MW/h net power generation — 1MW/h is used to operate the WTE system itself. Given the project does not disclose the comparison of the incinerator plant’s greenhouse gas intensity to the national average power plants, we would like to know the greenhouse gas intensity of this incinerator plant. As we have raised in our previous letter, WTE incineration is not a low-carbon technology. It is more emission-intensive than the average emission intensity on the grid. This has been observed in both the U.S. and the E.U. where WTE incineration releases more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy generated than coal-fired and gas-fired power plants.

WTE incineration is not a renewable energy source

The project does not disclose any justification on renewable energy generation. There is no waste composition analysis and mass balance analysis as part of the due diligence process. Without those analyses, there is no clarity on whether the WTE incinerator plant uses only a biogenic fraction of waste or burns fossil-based material, such as plastic — which is not a renewable feedstock per IPCC’s guidance on renewable energy. 

The Environmental and Social Compliance Audit Report suggests that the WTE incinerator plant will use high calorific value feedstock, including fossil-based plastic. Furthermore, it is also reported that the rejects from the composting process —including plastics— are directed to the WTE incineration. Moreover, the most biogenic fractions will be treated through composting and some through recycling (i.e. paper and cardboard). This leaves most rejects as fossil-based material in the incinerator. This is clearly not aligned with the claim made by ADB that this project is generating renewable energy.  

Moreover, we reiterate that the European Parliament has emphasized the need for the EU and Member States to minimise incineration, recognising its risk of causing lock-in effects and hampering the development of a circular economy in the EU. This is further strengthened through the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy Report which excludes WTE incineration because it makes a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and harms environmental objectives such as a transition to a Circular Economy, waste prevention and recycling.

  1. Unanswered concerns on safeguards measures of the WTE incineration component of the project

We are very concerned about the dioxins resulting from the waste incineration process, not only from the stack emissions but also in the incinerator ash. It is true that dioxins are formed during de novo synthesis which typically happens during cold start-up/pre-heating, shut-down, and Other Than Normal Operating Conditions (OTNOC) — such as leaks, malfunctions and momentary stoppages and maintenance. For example, in maintenance processes, a flushing process will bypass the flue gas cleaning system (air pollution control units) creating a huge surge of dioxin and dust production. When it occurs, in a few minutes dioxins emissions are released equivalent to the load dioxins from six years of normal operation. Moreover, one cold start-up process could possibly result in dioxins emission loads equivalent to several months of operation. However, the sampling standards used in this project are seriously flawed as they do not cover these conditions and represent a tiny percentage of the total yearly operating time of incinerators — approximately covering only 0.1 % of dioxin stack emission per year. 

Through long-term testing, the youngest incinerator in the Netherlands (Reststoffen Energie Centrale (REC) clearly reveals that the plant emits dioxins, furans, and toxic pollutants far beyond the limits set by EU laws. This finding is further confirmed through a biomonitoring study of incineration emissions in  Spain, Lithuania, and Czech Republic. The study found dioxins, furans, and other Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), such as PCBs, PAHS, and PFAS, in living organisms in the vicinity of those plants. These compounds are extremely toxic at very low levels, bioaccumulates, and are dangerously hard to break down. Therefore, it is highly concerning knowing the fact that the emission standard used in this project does not cover other POPs aside from dioxins.

We are also aware that this project plans to utilise the waste residues from its WTE incineration plants for the production of ceramic bricks and tiles that are sold commercially into the construction industry. This is highly worrying because both incineration fly ash and bottom ash are toxic substances, containing heavy metal and POPs. There is no guarantee that these chemicals will not leach over time to the environment — especially when used as construction material. A recent report shows evidence that incinerator bottom ash is highly hazardous and under-regulated. It highlights that incinerator bottom ash contains significant total concentrations of POPs (i.e. PCDD/Fs, PBDE, PCBs, PFAS) and microplastic. Additionally, incinerator fly ash contains more POPs compared to bottom ash. Allowing incinerator ash utilization as construction material and selling it commercially will do significant harm over time to people and the environment.  

On the Can Tho WTE plant, the issues remain the same regarding the standards used by ADB-funded WTE plants. The standards are far from sufficient for protecting people and the environment.  Additionally, we have no access to the latest Environmental and Social Monitoring Report (ESMS) which shows that the plant is compliant. As this letter is sent, the project page only shows ESMS of the Can Tho WTE plant from January-December 2020.

The Stockholm and Minamata Conventions phases out POPs and mercury, known byproducts of incinerators as evidenced by science and experience which is why embedding it in circular economy and transitionary plans are harming parallel international development goals and legal obligations.

We reiterate our demands to ADB and urge the bank to: 

  1. decisively withdraw the WTE incineration component from the proposed Binh Duong Waste Management and Energy Efficiency Project (56118-001); 
  2. publicly disclose the guidance note on WTE online; and 
  3. include compliance with the guidance note as a mandatory provision on the project data sheet if/when new WTE projects are proposed — allowing civil society groups and local communities to follow up accordingly.

Lastly, the ADB Energy Policy points out to support member-countries not only in a transitionary plan but also committed to a just transition that avoids social and environmental harm. WTE incineration projects are an unnecessary, highly risky, and resource-intensive project that does not fit in the context of the multiple crises happening now, especially in the light of climate crises. Member countries need support to transition away from the highly carbon-intensive processes. ADB should avoid using its limited resources for environmentally, economically and socially destructive projects.   

We look forward to your judicious actions. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and NGO Forum on ADB

Cc:

  • Masatsugu Asakawa, President
  • Ashok Lavasa, Vice-President, Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships
  • Suzanne Gaboury, Director General, Private Sector Operations Department
  • Woochong Um, Managing Director General
  • Christopher Thieme, Deputy Director General, Private Sector Operations Department
  • Won Myong Hong, Project Officer, Private Sector Operations Department
  • Priyantha Wijayatunga, Chief of Energy Sector Group, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department
  • Haidy Ear-Dupuy, Unit Head, NGO and Civil Society Center, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department
  • Bruce Dunn, Director, Safeguards Division
  • Members of the ADB Board of Directors

Read Asian Development Bank’s letter to GAIA here.

Interview with Jane Bremmer by Dan Abril

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

Jane Bremmer is one of Asia Pacific’s prominent and outspoken environmental advocates. However, with two Arts degrees and a Sound Design major, her involvement in environmental activism was something she didn’t quite expect or envision. She shares, “We had just moved into an old house with our 4-month-old baby and we were planning on a ceramics business when we discovered we were living next door to Western Australia’s worst contaminated site – a massive 38000 m3 pit of waste oil.” 

Heavily involved in social activism back in university, Jane was not the type to hold herself back; and so, together with others in the community, they formed a group and managed to get the site cleaned up and relocate those residents most affected by the contamination.

Known then as The Bellevue Action Group, it soon joined with other communities facing environmental justice threats and morphed into the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE) 

25 years later, the alliance has seen ordinary folks become heroes: from holding industrial polluters to account to getting involved in campaigns against waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerators, and climate change.  As ACE’s pioneer, Jane Bremmer sat with us to discuss the joys and challenges that come with coordinating and leading such an alliance.  

What are ACE’s main ongoing campaigns? 

ACE continues to support environmental justice communities facing pollution threats. In addition, we have two large WTE incinerator proposals here in Western Australia (WA) and so to counteract their waste disposal narrative, we are focused on supporting Zero Waste Campaigns here. 

Aside from that, we are also working on the impacts of pesticide use in both agricultural and urban environments.  A lot of people are interested because they are tired of seeing children’s playgrounds drenched in pesticides.  

What are your biggest accomplishments/achievements?

Our campaign on contaminated sites resulted in the state government introducing the first-ever Contaminated Sites Act. This was a great achievement and outcome for our campaign, ensuring no community in the future would face the same situation.

ACE was also able to prevent a fifth brickworks from being built in an already heavily industrial-impacted neighbourhood where air quality had long been compromised. We consider that every time that our government listens to us, and acts to protect our health and environment,  it is a win for us!

In 2005, ACE was also bestowed with a Sunday Times Pride of Australia Award for the Most Outstanding Environment Work Award. 

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

What challenges are you facing?  How is your work impacted by the COVID crisis?

ACE is a very independent voice and one of the significant challenges of an environmental justice campaigner is that you are often criticizing corporations and the government – and that is not a great way to make friends or get funding. In WA, mining corporations fund everything, even the academe is very industry-captured here and as such, it is very difficult for us to get the financial support we need. 

Another concern is that the world is changing very rapidly and people have less time now and people are feeling jaded and cynical. Compared to 20 years ago, people were more willing to take action and get involved in their local communities to defend their health and environment. Today, people are less interested and often accept government and industry platitudes without question. 

Our working model is to focus on providing resources that frontline communities need to raise awareness and engage their own communities and connect with experts and other contributors. 

COVID posed another problem, people became reluctant to meet – Australia has been so lucky dealing with the pandemic but I understand that the pandemic caused so much stress to so many other people, especially in the Asia Pacific (AP) region. 

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

There are many issues but climate change is right at the top. The fossil fuel industry, the petrochemical industry, and the pesticide industry are a deadly trio that wreaks havoc on climate, economics, trade, and people’s health. 

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

ACE is currently considering its future right now. Our membership often fluctuates according to the campaign – so whether we will still be ACE in 10 years or evolved into another organization, I don’t know. People retire and move on.  My hope is that I will see me and my colleagues in our old age sitting in the back while all these awesome, young, energetic campaigners will take up the reins and lead ACE forward. Whatever happens in the future, ACE will still be around in some shape or form. This oasis will always be here. 

What are your thoughts on the waste crisis that many countries in your region (and in the world) are living in right now?

Every single state in Australia is facing an incinerator threat. Two big ones have already been approved in WA, while New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and Queensland are now facing numerous incinerator threats. South Australia (SA) meanwhile, has been quietly burning waste all this time and has massive expansion plans for refuse-derived fuel (RDF). The ‘waste disposal sector’ dominates in Australia driving a narrative of false solutions like waste incineration while failing to invest in sustainable Zero Waste policies and redefining a Circular Economy to enshrine waste burning. The waste disposal industry does not talk about Zero Waste and as such, government finances are funneled into waste incinerator projects and not source segregation. 

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

I have a bit of hope here though. Industry heads have acknowledged that they do not have a social licence to operate in Australia. When they say that, I know that we are being effective. 

While Australia’s world-first waste export ban was a step in the right direction, it is simply enabling further waste dumping in the AP region through a simple redefinition of waste as a fuel commodity that can continue to be exported. This will exacerbate the global waste crisis and push incineration projects into the AP region. This will be a disaster for our climate, health, and environment. The vulnerable equatorial region on our planet is no place for dangerous highly polluting waste incinerators. The AP region knows how to implement Zero Waste policy and have long been leaders in this area. They just need respect and support to scale up. Imagine a world without waste incinerators or coal industries!

To look at the other positives: Australia has seen some major waste policy improvements such as single-use plastic (SUP) bans, container deposit schemes, extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, and now has a national food and garden organics (FOGO) programme diverting this waste from landfills to composting. 

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

We work with a number of other organizations – from local groups such as the Conservation Council of WA to international networks as the Basel Action Network (BAN), International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), and of course the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

How does your work on waste relate to social justice?

Most environmental justice threats disproportionately impact Indigenous peoples (IPs) and other minority groups and Australia is no exception.  It is well-documented that communities hosting industries in their neighborhoods are often negatively impacted by those industries. ACE’s fight against air pollution is a battle for human rights. Everyone has a right to clean air, water, and soil. 

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

There are so many great women in Australia and around the world who work for environmental justice, whether it’s petrochemicals, pesticides or plastic. They deserve much more recognition. Noting the work of  Dr Mariann Lloyd- Smith who founded the National Toxics Network (NTN), Lois Marie Gibbs, who lifted the lid on dioxin and its impact on communities in the US, Theo Colburn and her incredible work on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, and  Rachel Carlson who wrote “Silent Spring”. I have come to cherish and rely on them all. 

There are lots of incredible women who are doing amazing things in environmental justice spaces and a lot of women are simply standing up for their kids and communities – and they inspire me to keep going. 

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

The Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE) is in need of funding to continue its work on exposing the threat of waste incinerators and its campaign against the use of pesticides in urban areas. Reach out to ACE via their website or their Facebook group to learn more. 

Dear ADB President Asakawa, Managing Director Woochong Um, VP Ashok Lavasa (Private Sector Operations), and Members of the ADB Board of Directors,

We are writing to collectively urge an immediate reconsideration of the proposed financing for a new waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration project in Binh Duong Province, Viet Nam (Project Number: 56118-001). Formally reported as “Viet Nam: Binh Duong Waste Management and Energy Efficiency Project”, once operational, this project is expected to burn 200 tons of industrial and municipal solid waste per day.

This letter outlines the key reasons why the project should be urgently put on hold until it is revised rather than proceeding to the Board for approval, specifically: 1) in light of the absence of a finalized guidance note on WTE as mandated by the new 2021 Energy Policy (required to provide specific screening measures at all stages of the project cycle)  to meet the requirements of paragraph 71 of the policy that the choice of feedstock is a result of a prudent order of waste management and WTE will be the last option, approving this project would be a breach of due process; 2) the lack of any evidence-based information to illustrate how the project will actually tackle climate change and support making cities more liveable as per operational priorities of ADB’s Strategy 2030 (see the Project’s Initial Poverty and Social Analysis); 3) the unsubstantiated claim that WTE incineration is a viable source of renewable energy source; 4) high risk of safeguards violations in light of the lack of clarity how the implementing company’s own ESMS can be relied upon when across the region, WTE incineration plants systematically circumvent national pollution control laws while undermining standards upheld by international conventions.

Below, we elaborate why deploying the ADB’s limited resources to facilitate the building of such an unnecessary, risky, and resource-intensive project lacks foresight — most especially given the urgent need to support borrowing member countries to rapidly scale up options for reliance on locally relevant, decentralized renewable energy generation, and waste management systems.

  1. Background: Missing guidance notes on WTE incineration

We are alarmed by the fact that this project is proposed in the absence of the staff guidance note on WTE. Until today, the guidance note has not been finalized and made publicly available. In our latest conversation with senior management-level staff in the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, it was made clear that the guidance notes will be applied before the approval stage of a project cycle.  As mandated by the new Energy Policy, the staff guidance will elaborate upon the screening criteria for ADB operations involving natural gas, large hydropower plants, and WTE plants. On WTE, the guidance note should provide criteria to ensure that the feedstock used in ADB’s proposed projects on WTE incineration will follow “a prudent order of waste management priorities”. This means, before WTE incineration is considered to be installed, ADB operations must ensure first the reduction of waste generation, material reuse, and recycling to take place. 

The guidance note on WTE must reinforce and not undermine paragraph 71 of the new Energy Policy, ensuring prioritization of waste management options in which WTE incineration is the last option. WTE incineration is an end-of-pipe solution to waste. Its existence does not stimulate higher and more important solutions for waste management which are reduction, reuse, and recycling. In fact, it disincentivizes upstream solutions due to its huge financial implications for local governments’ budgets through the high cost of construction and operational costs. In many cases, national governments need to subsidize the tipping fee, feed-in tariff, or false renewable energy subsidy. 

There is no clear evidence-based rationale for the Board to approve the WTE incineration component of this non-sovereign loan worth USD 7 million before the guidance note is in place and duly adhered to by ADB staff. The project does not indicate any means to reduce waste generation, such as first supporting the implementation of a ban on single-use products and packaging, a deposit-refund system, or local programs to promote reuse and refillable containers, food loss and food waste prevention — all of which could in fact help make the cities in the project area more livable. The project also does not include a component of material recycling for recyclable metal, plastic, paper, and cardboard. Additionally, it is also unclear whether the composting plant will treat source-separated waste or mixed waste — a critical factor in ensuring a high-quality organic management process. Lastly, there is no initial analysis on waste composition and generation conducted to justify that the WTE component has followed a prudent order of waste management priorities. 

Given the absence of a guidance note, there is no way for civil society to verify how the implementing company, BIWASE, will adopt the best internationally available standards in accordance with international conventions as mandated by the new Energy Policy. In this regard, we note with concern that the company’s website also does not list any intent to follow international guidelines for emissions or other environmental, health, and safety standards.

Support for WTE incineration would also hamper efforts to avoid harming livelihood opportunities for the poorest of the poor working along the waste value chain as required in the new Energy Policy. WTE incineration facilities create the least jobs compared to composting, recycling, remanufacturing, and repair. Therefore, it will most likely lead to an extensive loss of employment and loss of livelihood for those working in the informal waste sector. Furthermore, the presence of incineration plants also typically lead to a drastic loss of income for the informal waste sector. This happens because incinerator plants demand a constant and huge amount of waste with high-calorific content which is found in recyclables. Expansion of WTE incineration capacity would also contradict Viet Nam’s national recycling targets.

  1. WTE incineration is not a low-carbon investment

The claim that this project is aligned with the operational priorities of ADB’s Strategy 2030 —in particular the key operational priority on tackling climate change— is very concerning to us as civil society organizations directly advocating for climate, energy, social and economic justice. Waste incineration projects are heavily reliant on burning plastic. This makes WTE incineration plants no different than any other fossil-powered energy generation system. Incinerating plastic which is 99 percent made of fossil fuels emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2e for every tonne of plastic burned. Further, when energy is recovered, incinerating one tonne of plastic still results in 1.43 tonnes of CO2e — way higher than real renewable sources such as wind and solar.

WTE incineration is not a low-carbon technology; in fact, it is more emission-intensive than the average emission intensity on the grid, including coal-fired and gas-fired power plants. In both the U.S. and the E.U., WTE incineration is considered among the dirtiest sources of energy and the most emissions-intensive form of power generation on the  grid. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour than coal-fired, natural-gas-fired, or oil-fired power plants. A recent scientific paper further proves that incinerators emit more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced than any other power source. This finding is corroborated by a study on European incinerators which shows that the carbon intensity of electricity produced from WTE incinerators is twice the current European Union average electricity grid intensity — significantly greater than energy produced through conventional fossil fuel sources.

Lastly, waste incineration has no place in any decarbonization plans. WTE incineration facilities are expected to operate for about 25 years with significant GHG emissions as explained above — causing both carbon lock-in and feedstock lock-in effects. This hinders countries from achieving their climate targets and improving their waste prevention and recycling rate. This process would also encourage more extraction of resources, since discarded materials have been destroyed rather than recovered, thus indirectly contributing to more emissions.

  1. Municipal and industrial solid waste is not a renewable energy source 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines renewable energy as energy created from natural processes that do not get depleted, such as bioenergy, direct solar energy, and those derived from wind, or ocean. IPCC also states that only the organic component of municipal solid waste is considered renewable. Hence, fossil components of waste streams such as plastic materials are non-renewable. In the case of this project, 840 tons per day of organic waste would be taken by the composting facility. Thus, it is likely that WTE will rely on burning non-organic waste fraction, especially fossil-derived plastic. 

Additionally, both municipal and industrial solid waste contains recyclable and reusable materials lost from the economy that needs to be re-mined, re-grown, and re-manufactured which incinerators destroy. Reuse and recycling also save more energy and prevent more greenhouse gas emissions compared to waste incineration. Therefore, investments in burning discarded materials such as plastic, paper, and glass that are derived from finite natural resources undermine climate goals.

Labeling WTE incineration as a renewable energy source project has severely unjust energy transition implications. This fact is well reflected in the U.S. where waste incineration is considered one of the most expensive ways to generate energy. A more recent study also shows that WTE incineration is nearly four times higher than solar power and onshore wind energy and 25 percent more expensive than coal-fired power plants. WTE incineration also reflects the weak financing model for an industry that has become increasingly dependent on renewable energy subsidies to stay afloat. 

  1. Potential safeguards violation of WTE incineration projects

We question the project environment safeguard categorization as well as the suggestion in the Project Initial Poverty and Social Analysis that it will make surrounding cities more livable. The project is currently categorized as a Category B. WTE incinerators cause long-term public health and environmental damage. Case studies of waste incineration projects throughout Asia and the Pacific have unequivocally demonstrated causal connections to adverse and irreversible environmental impacts. Paragraph 36 of ADB Safeguards Policy 2009 (SPS 2009) requires borrowers to avoid any release of hazardous substances and materials subject to international bans and phaseouts. This clearly conflicts with two international conventions. Both Minamata and Stockholm conventions have identified waste incineration as a major source of mercury and dioxins which are highly toxic and must be phased out immediately.

This project also does not reflect compliance with SPS 2009. In paragraph 35, the borrower is mandated to minimize the generation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste resulting from project activities. WTE incineration does not eliminate waste as it only converts domestic waste into toxic waste in the form of ash. For every four tons of waste burnt, it is expected that there will be at least one ton of toxic incinerator fly ash and bottom ash. Furthermore, paragraphs 34 and 35 also require borrowers to prioritize waste prevention, reuse, and treatment (i.e. composting and recycling) — compliant with resource conservation principles and a prudent order of waste management priorities. Similarly, Viet Nam national law on Environmental Protection also mandates all organizations to prioritize upstream preventive measures.

A report by IPEN shows that toxic ash and other residues from waste incineration around the globe contain dioxins, furans (PCDD/Fs), and a range of other highly toxic Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which occur at levels threatening to human health and the environment. Also, WTE incineration emits fine and ultra-fine particles that contain high amounts of toxic compounds and pose a serious threat to the environment and human health. 

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency released findings showing that the Norfos incineration plant has repeatedly exceeded the limit value for toxic emissions for dioxins and furans since 2014. More recent research conducted in Kaunas (Lithuania), Pilsen (Czech Republic), and Valdemingomez (Spain) show that WTE incinerators contribute to high dioxin levels in the vicinity of the plants. Long-term studies from state-of-the-art WTE incinerators in Harlingen (the Netherlands) and Sant Adrià de Besós (Spain) reveal emissions of toxic pollutants far beyond the limits set by EU laws. A similar long-term study in 2019, showed that UK incinerators breached their air pollution limits 127 times — with five different facilities reporting more than 10 permit breaches. There were 96 hours of abnormal operations where toxic pollutants such as dioxins are very likely to be released and not monitored.

The toxic contamination is not incidental, but systemic as shown by the recent news of Lausanne dioxin contamination in Switzerland. The country’s fourth-largest city is currently trying to cope with the effects of a recent discovery of wide-scale soil pollution caused by toxic compounds from an old garbage incinerator. This incident has caused an EU-wide investigation into impacts at other incinerator locations and should be a wake-up call for the ADB management – it is time to end support for WTE incineration. 

Incinerator bottom ash from burning waste also contains significant total concentrations of elements that are a ‘high level of concern’ based on EU REACH hazard classifications. For example, studies from a municipal solid waste incinerator in Phuket (Thailand) have shown that the ash emitted contains high concentrations of dioxins. The accumulated ash is stored adjacent to the plant and near the coastline, without protective barriers to prevent dioxins from leaking into the sea. Close to the plant, it was found that some of the fish and shellfish samples, also wild bird eggs, had elevated POPs levels. Furthermore, there is growing evidence that waste incineration exacerbates microplastic contamination in surrounding areas, for example, up to 102,000 microplastic particles are found per metric ton of waste incinerated.

The national regulation on industrial waste incineration also uses lower safeguards standards on dioxins emission in flue gas (QCVN 30: 2012/BTNMT). The emission standard for dioxins in flue gas is 0.6 ng TEQ/Nm3. That is six times lower than the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU) of the European Parliament (EU IED) standard which set 0.1 ng TEQ/Nm3 for dioxins emissions in the flue gas. Additionally, the national law on Environment Protection also only requires once a year dioxins and furans monitoring in incinerator wastewater and flue gas — which is less than what is required by the EU IED on the monitoring frequency.

We note with concern that in the past, ADB has also supported one WTE project in Viet Nam which has been reported as non-compliant with ADB SPS yet remains to be in operation to this day. This first ADB-funded WTE plant in Viet Nam (Project Number: 50371-001) is located in the solid waste treatment area of Xã Trường Xuân Commune of Thới Lai District, which is 36 km from Cần Thơ City. According to the ADB’s own Environmental and Social Monitoring Report and Annual Environmental and Social Performance Report, there are several instances of significant safeguards violations (SPS 2009; Safeguard Requirement 1: Environment; paragraphs 33, 34, 35, and 36).

  1. Lack of monitoring of toxic persistent organic pollutants

In 2019, the operator of Cần Thơ WTE plant has signed an MoU with ADB providing assurances that the Plant shall meet the emissions limits based on the EU IED. This directive is often referred to as the best international standard on WTE incineration. 

In the reports, dioxins and furans are not monitored continuously, but rather only monitored once every three months by third-party laboratories. Moreover, these toxic pollutants are only measured over an average sampling period of two hours. In practice, this would only represent 0.1% of the total operation time per year. Even if the measurement of dioxins and furans meets the limitations stipulated in the EU IED, the sampling period is recorded for only six to eight hours; i.e. representing 0.4% of the annual operation at best. 

  1. ​​Lack of testing parameters for toxic pollutants 

The Environmental and Social Monitoring Report has highlighted several missing testing parameters for the incinerator bottom ash, including those related to heavy metals, dioxins, and furans. It also underscored the lack of capacity of local government authorities to manage toxic incinerator ash adequately. In fact, Cần Thơ City Government does not have any safeguard measures for securing incinerator toxic ash. Currently, the city government is still in the planning stages for developing a fly ash landfill within the solid waste treatment area in the Thới Lai District. Notably, the EU IED also requires monitoring of dioxins contained in WTE incineration wastewater. Yet, no such measurements are reported from Cần Thơ WTE.

  1. Lack of meaningful consultations and insufficient information disclosure

Crucially, ADB’s own Environmental and Social Monitoring Report of the respective project also indicates the need to conduct additional consultation to ensure affected communities around the site are fully informed of the project. The report highlighted that the project needs to inform local communities about the grievance system. From our perspective, it is also critically important that ADB and project staff communicate the potential risks of toxic emissions and ash released from the plants to surrounding households in a  language they understand.

These three concerns are indicative of the serious risks from WTE incinerators, which as recognized by international laws and growing evidence even in countries with superior regulatory environment, has to be avoided than mitigated. Without any requirement that mandates continuous sampling and information disclosure from emission monitoring activity, WTE incineration plants pose significant health risks to local communities. It is crucial to ensure the establishment of working project grievance mechanisms that enable secure, independent reporting channels to avoid risks of reprisals and retaliation. This should be accompanied with regular meaningful consultations with the affected communities, conducted in a language they understand, in spaces where they can express concerns and raise questions free of fear of reprisals. In cases where serious safeguards requirements are not fulfilled, the Board must withdraw from these projects. 

In light of the above information, we are calling on the ADB to 1) decisively withdraw the WTE component from the proposed Binh Duong Waste Management and Energy Efficiency Project (56118-001); 2) publicly disclose the guidance note on WTE online; and 3) include compliance with the guidance note as a mandatory provision on the project data sheet if/when new WTE projects are proposed — allowing civil society groups and local communities to follow up accordingly. At a minimum, taking these steps would help provide a basis for clarity for civil society and community groups to evaluate whether and how the Bank is diligently prepared to follow a prudent order of waste management priorities in its project investments and ensure a transparent set of screening standards are firmly in place for staff and project proponent guidance.

We look forward to your timely response. Thank you.
 

Sincerely,

Cc: 

  • Won Myong Hong, Project Officer, Private Sector Operations Department
  • Suzanne Gaboury, Director General, Private Sector Operations Department
  • Christopher Thieme, Deputy Director General, Private Sector Operations Department
  • Priyantha Wijayatunga, Chief of Energy Sector Group, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department
  • Bruce Dunn, Director, Safeguards Division

September 30, 2022 – Reacting to the conclusion of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB),  the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific, said: 

“The ambition of the Bank to finance the requirements of meeting 1.5C goal risks create more inequities as we see continued support for false solutions with the same industrial polluters that pushed us to this climate crisis.” Yobel Putra, Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner said. 

GAIA Asia Pacific said ADB’s investments for Waste-to-Energy (WTE)  incinerators that over 1 billion US$ in combined loans, grants, and technical assistance have been disbursed in the region between 2009 to 2021.  

“That’s a lot of money that could have been better spent supporting measures for preventing unsustainable production, waste collection and segregation, recycling, and redesign for saving more natural resources which could drastically reduce our carbon footprints.”, Putra said. 

The WTE industry is being supported as a solution to waste, energy, and ocean health. GAIA AP says this hampers the region’s efforts to come out of the crisis stronger and greener. 

Global evidence on WTE incinerators shows that the technology is costly and dirty leading to plant closures but leaving behind permanent problems such as a trail of bad debts, long-term health implications for communities, ecosystem damage, loss of jobs for waste pickers and recyclers, and 68% more greenhouse gases per unit of energy than coal plants.

“Countries highly susceptible to impacts of climate change such as ours do not need or want WTE incineration as a waste management solution. When it comes to WTE incineration projects, the Maldivian experience is an experience riddled with debt, corruption, and irreversible environmental destruction! Community-led Zero Waste solutions have proven to be more effective for waste management for us. ADB should stop promoting false solutions to us!”, says Afrah Ismail, Zero Waste Maldives. 

GAIA Asia Pacific calls for the ADB to cease categorizing WTE incinerators as climate-mitigating, enhancing ocean health, and environmental sustainability. The flawed tagging direct policies, international efforts and public finance in support of a polluting industry.  Currently, WTE projects in Maldives, China, Thailand, and Vietnam were supported through ADB’s green and blue bonds financing without meaningful consultations with affected communities and civil society organizations to discuss the merits and implications of these projects.

Stronger protection for people and the planet 

GAIA AP also urges the Bank to develop coherent implementation arrangements and safeguards policies to realize the promise stated in its new Energy Policy meaning that no new projects for incinerators shall take place without considering “holistically the order of priorities— first reducing waste generation, then exploiting the options for reusing and recycling materials and opting for WTE only as the last option. It is also committed to being aligned with international covenants. 

Since last year, GAIA AP has been strongly advocating for the inclusion of economic activities which produce Persistent Organic Pollutants such as dioxins and furans in the Bank’s exclusion list, cognizant of the Stockholm and Basel Conventions. These dangerous pollutants are emitted by waste incinerators and found in their ash residues. During the ADB virtual meeting session on safeguards policy, however, the Asia Development Bank confirmed that it is not excluding projects that generate dioxins and furans. “It is disappointing that the ADB would not respect, Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) despite the recent recognition that such air pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass for energy use, is the principal source of air pollution in the region killing nearly 4.5 million a year,” Jane Bremmer, National Toxics Network of Australia. 

GAIA AP also sees dangers in the Bank’s role in the institutionalization of WTE even in countries with clear legal bans. Aileen Lucero of Ecowaste Coalition in the Philippines also criticized the Bank for violating national environmental laws through its technical assistance support in the conduct of feasibility study, marketing, procurement and other facilitation activities to allow the WTE corporation to enter into a joint venture agreement with the Cebu local government. 

The outdated policy framework and weak implementation of its safeguards policy risk posing more harm than good to cities where these incinerators will be running, especially because most of these are entered into with the private sector with voluntary reporting on environmental and social performance,” said  GAIA AP.  

GAIA AP challenges the Bank to set the direction for a climate resilient and green recovery by developing strategies that are inherently found in the region and have been empowering communities such as the Zero Waste approach.  

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Media Contact:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Communications Officer sonia@no-burn.org, +63 917 5969286

Campaign Contact:

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific Climate & Clean Energy Associate yobel@no-burn.org 

This post is written by plastics campaigners at Greenpeace UK and guest authors from UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), and originally published on greenpeace.org.uk

Earlier in July, the long-awaited results of The Big Plastic Count – the UK’s largest ever investigation into household plastic waste – were revealed. The citizen science project sought to discover how much plastic we throw away, where it actually goes once it leaves our homes, and how much of it gets recycled.

Turns out it’s not a lot. Sadly, just 12% of the 100 billion pieces of plastic leaving our homes every year is actually recycled in the UK. What happens to the rest of it? Well, most ends up in an incinerator.

Incineration is bad for the climate

Plastic is almost entirely made from oil and gas. So burning it is essentially burning fossil fuels. In fact, for every tonne of dense plastic burned more than two tonnes of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

Now, let’s consider the fact that UK households throw away nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year, and nearly half of that is ending up burned. Incinerating this plastic releases around 750,000 tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere each year. That’s the same as adding 350,000 cars to our roads here in the UK.

To make matters worse, global plastic production is set to triple by 2060. This means that, without a big change, the amount of plastic incinerated will also increase.

Those profiting from incineration often call the energy from burning waste “green”. This greenwash would be laughable if it wasn’t so utterly frustrating. The reality is, electricity from plastic incineration is even dirtier than coal.

We’re in a climate crisis. We urgently need to stop extracting fossil fuels. We need to transition to renewable energy, such as wind and solar. We do not need to worsen climate change by burning plastic under the guise of being “green”.

It’s bad for air quality and our health

Burning plastic waste also releases a range of toxic gases, heavy metals, and particles into the air. These can be bad for our health.

Dioxins are just one of the many harmful emissions from incinerators. They are highly toxic and can cause cancer and damage to the immune system. Dioxins are also known to interfere with hormones. This can trigger problems in our brain, reproductive and nervous systems.

Even state-of-the-art incinerators can give off potentially dangerous amounts of dioxins. Because, while incinerators are fitted with technology to capture such toxins, some get through the filters.

Research has found chicken eggs within 2 kilometres of a modern incinerator were unsuitable for consumption due to contamination. A 2021 study found high levels of dioxins near incinerators.

Far better solutions exist to tackle the plastic crisis. Corporations and governments should not sacrifice the health of local communities with poor plastic waste management.

It’s costing us money

For decades, incinerators have been releasing harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the burning of plastic without compensating society for the climate harm it’s causing.

Last year alone, the incineration of plastic in the UK was responsible for nearly £2 billion of unpaid climate harm. And this staggering figure doesn’t even include the associated health costs.

It’s racist and classist

Incineration is also a prime example of environmental injustice. Incinerators are three times more likely to be built in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhood and more than 40% of existing incinerators are in areas with higher diversity than their local average.

An infamous example of this is the Edmonton ‘EcoPark’ – an incinerator located in one of the most deprived areas in England, where 65% of residents are people of colour. In the words of Enfield Black Lives Matter campaigner, Delia Mattis:

“We need to be calling this what it is; racism. These industries know that when they place an incinerator in an area like Edmonton, one of the most deprived constituencies in the country, people won’t get involved in campaigns against it because they are already tired from fighting against racial oppression and injustice all their lives”.

The recent decision to expand the Edmonton incinerator, despite strong objections from local communities, is in stark contrast to the decision made by Cambridgeshire County Council, where “the incinerator was rejected because it wasn’t in keeping with the listed and historic buildings in the area. In Cambridgeshire buildings are important, in Edmonton, lives are not.”

It competes with recycling and we’re already over-capacity

Incinerators can’t be easily switched off and on, so they need constant feeding to keep running. This means incinerators compete for plastic and other waste with recycling and composting facilities. Incinerators are expensive to build, and as incineration companies want a return on their investment, these facilities tend to be run for decades.

This often means waste companies secure long-term contracts with local councils who promise to pay for capacity whether they use it or not. Councils often then go on to tell local residents that they can’t afford to invest in waste education or recycling because, even if it resulted in less waste being burned, they would still need to pay for the incinerator.

It should therefore come as no surprise that regions with the highest rates of incineration also tend to have the lowest recycling rates. Incinerators in the UK are relying on burning recyclable material to keep going. We already have far too much incineration capacity and we certainly do not want any more.

And no, simply increasing recycling capacity isn’t the answer either. Plastic reduction is the key.

So what can be done?

Incineration is not a viable option for solving the plastic crisis, and is making the climate crisis even worse. So what needs to be done? And what can you do to help?

One obvious action that needs to be taken is the phasing out of incineration, and some parts of the UK are already leading the way.  In June this year, Scotland introduced a ban on new incinerators – meaning no further planning permissions will be granted for new Scottish waste incineration capacity. This follows Wales introducing a ban in 2021. Both countries acknowledge that new incinerators act as a barrier to achieving zero waste, net zero and a circular economy.

The rest of the UK must now follow in their footsteps.

The UK must also focus on reducing single use packaging, and transitioning towards reusable options – alternatives that cost less both financially and environmentally. Reducing the amount of plastic produced in the first place, means less plastic being burned, less carbon in the atmosphere and less toxins in our air. Greenpeace is demanding that the government halves single use plastic by 2025.

For the sake of our health and our planet, burning plastic needs to end.

Help UKWIN reach over 125.000 signatures calling for an incineration moratorium

SIGN THE PETITION to the UK Government calling for them to “Fix the UK’s plastic waste crisis: reduce single use plastic by 50% by 2025, ban all waste exports, ban new incinerators being built, and roll out a deposit return scheme.”

“Incinerators in the UK are relying on burning recyclable material to keep going. We already have far too much incineration capacity and we certainly do not want any more.”

UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN)

Ocean Conservancy commits to working with GAIA Network to address damages done to impacted communities

September 14, 2022 – Today the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in the Asia Pacific and its member organizations have concluded the first step of a restorative justice process with the U.S.-based organization Ocean Conservancy (OC). The process aims to address the years of damage brought about by its “Stemming the Tide” report (now removed from OC’s website) by correcting the narrative and agreeing to restorative actions requested by communities and sectors most impacted by the report. 

In contrast to the 2015 report which placed the responsibility for plastic waste solely on the shoulders of five Asian countries (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) while ignoring the role of the Global North in plastic overproduction and waste exports, this process is leading to new common ground. Agreements include prioritizing plastic reduction policies, moving resources to Zero Waste solutions, denouncing false solutions like burning plastics in so-called “waste to energy” (WTE) incinerators and “chemical recycling,” and accountability mechanisms.

”This unprecedented report retraction is an opportunity to interrupt decades of waste colonialism,” shares Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Coordinator. “Ocean Conservancy is in a position to raise awareness among other organizations and policymakers about the false narrative propagated by the report. We call on all organizations to adhere to democratic organizing principles when interacting with communities in the Global South, and to respect solutions that are grounded in the real situation of the communities.” Grate encourages advocates to reinforce the restorative justice process.

First coined in 1989, waste colonialism is the process by which rich and developed countries show dominance over other lesser-developed countries through toxic waste exports, leaving the receiving (and often, ill-equipped) countries to deal with the waste, thus severely affecting their communities and environment. 

Christie Keith, GAIA International Coordinator, expounds,  “The five Asian countries mentioned in the report are not to be blamed for plastic waste. That fault lies with the corporations that make and push out ever-increasing quantities of plastic – and those fighting for Zero Waste community solutions deserve to be honored and celebrated, not attacked. We welcome OC’s commitment to repair the harm done, and uplift Zero Waste solutions. ”

Aditi Varshneya, GAIA US Membership Coordinator, adds, “‘Stemming the Tide’ also harmed communities in more ways than one. The report’s findings have undermined long-standing community efforts to achieve sustainable policies on health, waste management, and funding.”

Rahyang Nusantara of Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia emphasizes that “The report (‘Stemming the Tide’) has harmed our communities but we are not victims because we have the solutions.” David Sutasurya of Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB) adds,  “We have Zero Waste solutions to counter waste.”  Sutasurya shares that in the first year of YPBB’s Zero Waste pilot areas in Bandung, the districts successfully diverted 950 kg of waste away from landfills daily and managed to save about IDR 63 million (USD 4,300) in waste transportation costs. 

According to Satyarupa Shekhar, #breakfreefromplastic movement Asia Pacific Coordinator, “OC’s report, which was drafted by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm whose clientele includes some of the world’s top plastic polluters, diluted existing restrictions on incineration and opened the doors to false solutions and controversial techno-fixes to deal with the plastic pollution crisis. Some of the glaring examples are: in the Philippines, where a national ban on incineration is threatened by new proposals to allow WTE incineration plants, and in Indonesia, where the government continues to push for waste incineration despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruling revoked Presidential regulation No. 18/2016, which speed up the development of waste-based power plants or incinerators.“

Aside from retracting the report, OC acknowledged its mistake in focusing on plastic waste management and reconsidered its position on WTE incineration and other similar technologies to deal with the burgeoning plastic waste crisis. OC has also admitted its error in failing to look at the work of local communities and the subsequent effects of the report on them. 

Welcoming OC’s change of position, Aileen Lucero of Ecowaste Coalition in the Philippines and Daru Rini of ECOTON in Indonesia illustrated that the current plastic crisis is not a waste management issue, but instead, the problem should be addressed by looking at the entire lifecycle of plastic. Rini states that “the problem begins the moment fossil fuels are extracted to produce single-use plastics (SUP).”  

Fighting False Solutions to Plastic Pollution

In recent years, several false solutions have been offered to counteract the plastic crisis,  from burning waste to “chemical recycling,” which in no way addresses the full lifecycle of plastic. 

For Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines, “Each country should be responsible for the waste it generates and not export them under the guise of ‘trade’. Burning waste is not an option as well. WTE could as well mean “waste of energy.”

Looking at the current end life of SUPs, Xuan Quach, Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance chairman, highlights that, “WTE and chemical recycling are not sustainable.” To which, Nindhita Proboretno of Nexus 3 Foundation in Indonesia adds,  “Those technologies are not environment-friendly solutions and have no place in a world struggling against climate change.”  

Xavier Sun,  organizer of the Taiwan Zero Waste Alliance, agrees, stating that such strategies only  “cause further toxic pollution (such as bottom ash, fly ash, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) that damages our climate and human health. Additionally, they encourage further plastic production, and undermine real solutions.”

Moving toward Zero Waste

Meanwhile, Merci Ferrer of War on Waste-Break Free From Plastic (WOW-BFFP) – Negros Oriental in the Philippines, adds that “This  process with OC would bring justice and recognition to the work of communities engaged in Zero Waste work.”

Summarizing the sentiments of all key leaders, Nalini Shekar of Hasiru Dala in India, adds, “The report has influenced decision makers to divert valuable resources meant for decentralized Zero Waste solutions to centralized, highly-mechanical unsustainable practices and caused other harm to communities. However, the report retraction is a step towards healing and reversing the damages done –  showing once again that Zero Waste is the only sustainable solution.”

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About GAIA – 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. 

Media Contacts:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer  | sonia@no-burn.org | +63 9175969286

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Bahasa Indonesia:

Kemajuan Bersejarah dalam Perang Melawan Kolonialisme Sampah

Ocean Conservancy berkomitmen untuk bekerja sama dengan GAIA Network untuk mengatasi kerugian yang terjadi pada masyarakat yang terdampak

14 September 2022 – Kemarin, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pasifik dan anggotanya telah menyelesaikan langkah pertama dari proses keadilan restoratif dengan Ocean Conservancy (OC) organisasi yang berbasis di AS. Proses ini bertujuan untuk mengatasi kerugian yang sudah bertahun-tahun  yang ditimbulkan oleh laporan “Stemming the Tide” (saat ini sudah dihapus dari situs web OC) dengan mengoreksi narasi, dan menyepakati tindakan restoratif yang diminta oleh masyarakat dan sektor yang paling terkena dampak atas laporan tersebut.

Berbeda dengan tahun 2015, dimana lima negara Asia (China, Indonesia, Filipina, Thailand, dan Vietnam) dinobatkan sebagai negara yang bertanggung jawab atas sampah plastik namun mengabaikan peran negara-negara Global Utara dalam produksi plastik dan ekspor sampah yang berlebihan, saat ini proses keadilan restoratif mengarah ke kesepakatan baru. Kesepakatan termasuk memprioritaskan keb akan pengurangan plastik, mentransfer sumber daya ke solusi Zero Waste, menolak solusi palsu seperti pembakaran plastik yang disebut insinerator “Waste to Energy”, daur ulang bahan kimia’, dan mekanisme akuntabilitas.

Pencabutan laporan yang belum pernah terjadi sebelumnya ini untuk menginterupsi puluhan tahun kolonialisme sampah,” kata Froilan Grate, Koordinator GAIA Asia Pasifik. “Ocean Conservancy berada dalam posisi untuk meningkatkan kesadaran di antara organisasi dan pembuat keb akan lain tentang narasi palsu yang disebarkan oleh laporan tersebut. Kami meminta kepada semua organisasi untuk mematuhi prinsip-prinsip pengorganisasian yang demokratis ketika berinteraksi dengan masyarakat di negara-negara Global South, dan untuk menghormati solusi yang didasarkan pada situasi nyata masyarakat lokal,” tambah Grate mendorong para advokat untuk memperkuat proses keadilan restoratif.

Pertama kali diciptakan pada tahun 1989, kolonialisme sampah adalah proses di mana negara-negara kaya dan maju menunjukkan dominasi atas negara-negara kurang berkembang lainnya melalui ekspor limbah beracun, membiarkan negara-negara penerima

(dan seringkali, tidak dilengkapi teknologi yang baik) untuk menangani limbah, dengan demikian mempengaruhi dalam memperparah dampak yang dialami masyarakat dan lingkungan mereka.

Christie Keith, Koordinator Internasional GAIA, menjelaskan, “Lima negara Asia yang disebutkan dalam laporan tidak dapat disalahkan atas sampah plastik. Kesalahan itu terletak pada perusahaan yang membuat dan mendorong jumlah plastik yang terus meningkat – dan mereka yang berjuang untuk solusi Zero Waste Community layak untuk dihargai dan dirayakan, bukan diserang. Kami menyambut baik komitmen OC untuk memperbaiki kerusakan yang terjadi, dan meningkatkan solusi Zero Waste, ” ujarnya.

Aditi Varshneya, GAIA AS Koordinator Keanggotaan, menambahkan, “‘Stemming the Tide juga merugikan masyarakat dengan lebih dari satu cara. Temuan laporan tersebut telah merusak upaya masyarakat lokal untuk mencapai keb akan berkelanjutan tentang kesehatan, pengelolaan limbah, dan pendanaan,” tambahnya.

Rahyang Nusantara dari Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia juga menekankan bahwa, “Laporan (‘Stemming the Tide’) telah merugikan komunitas kami tetapi kami bukan korban karena kami memiliki solusinya.” Begitu juga dengan David Sutasurya dari Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB), dia menambahkan, “Kami memiliki solusi Zero Waste untuk mengatasi sampah.” David menjelaskan bahwa pada tahun pertama daerah percontohan Zero Waste YPBB di Kota Bandung dan kabupaten-kabupaten tersebut berhasil mengalihkan 950 kg sampah dari tempat pembuangan sampah setiap hari dan berhasil menghemat sekitar Rp 63 juta (USD 4.300) untuk biaya transportasi sampah.

Sementara itu, menurut Satyarupa Shekhar, Koordinator gerakan #breakfreefromplastic Asia Pasifik, “Laporan OC, yang disusun oleh McKinsey & Company, sebuah perusahaan konsultan manajemen global yang kliennya mencakup beberapa pencemar plastik terbesar di dunia, melemahkan pembatasan penggunaan teknologi insinerator yang ada dan membuka pintu untuk solusi palsu dan perbaikan teknologi kontroversial untuk menangani krisis polusi plastik,” jelasnya. Satyarupa memaparkan beberapa contoh mencolok adalah: di Filipina, di mana larangan nasional terhadap insinerator terancam oleh proposal baru yang mengizinkan pembangkit listrik tenaga sampah menjadi energi, dan di Indonesia, di mana pemerintah terus mendorong insinerasi sampah meskipun keputusan Mahkamah Agung telah mencabut Perpres No. 18/2016, yang mempercepat pembangunan pembangkit listrik berbasis sampah atau insinerator.

Selain mencabut laporan tersebut, OC mengakui kesalahannya yang hanya fokus pada manajemen pengelolaan sampah plastik dan mempertimbangkan waste-to-energy atau insinerasi dan teknologi serupa lainnya untuk menangani krisis sampah plastik yang sedang berkembang. OC juga mengakui kesalahannya karena tidak melihat apa yang sudah dikerjakan oleh masyarakat lokal dan bagaimana dampaknya terhadap mereka akibat laporan tersebut.

Menyambut perubahan posisi OC, Aileen Lucero dari Ecowaste Coalition di Filipina dan Daru Rini dari ECOTON di Indonesia mengilustrasikan bahwa krisis plastik saat ini bukanlah hanya masalah manajemen pengelolaan sampah saja, melainkan masalah yang harus diatasi dengan melihat seluruh siklus hidup plastik. “Masalah dimulai saat bahan bakar fosil diekstraksi untuk menghasilkan plastik sekali pakai (PSP),” pungkas Daru.

Memerangi Solusi Palsu terhadap Pencemaran Plastik

Dalam beberapa tahun terakhir, beberapa solusi palsu telah ditawarkan untuk melawan krisis plastik, mulai dari pembakaran sampah hingga ‘daur ulang bahan kimia’, yang sama sekali tidak membahas siklus hidup plastik secara penuh.

Bagi Sonia Mendoza, Ketua Mother Earth Foundation di Filipina, “Setiap negara harus bertanggung jawab atas limbah yang dihasilkannya dan tidak mengekspornya dengan kedok ‘perdagangan’. Membakar sampah juga bukan pilihan. Waste to Energy (WtE) juga bisa berarti: pemborosan energi.

Melihat umur akhir PSP saat ini, Xuan Quach, ketua Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance, menyoroti bahwa, “WtE dan daur ulang bahan kimia tidak berkelanjutan.” Untuk itu, Nindhita Proboretno dari Nexus 3 Foundation di Indonesia menambahkan, “Teknologi tersebut bukanlah teknologi yang ramah lingkungan dan tidak memiliki tempat di dunia manapun yang saat ini berjuang melawan perubahan iklim.

Senada dengan Nindhita, Xavier Sun, pengurus Taiwan Zero Waste Alliance, menyatakan bahwa “Strategi seperti itu hanya menyebabkan polusi beracun lebih lanjut (seperti bottom ash, fly ash, dan gas rumah kaca (GRK) yang merusak iklim dan kesehatan manusia. Selain itu, mereka mendorong produksi plastik lebih lanjut, dan merusak solusi nyata.”

Bergerak menuju Zero Waste

Sementara itu, Merci Ferrer dari War on Waste-Break Free From Plastic (WOW-BFFP) -Negros Oriental di Filipina, menambahkan bahwa “Proses dengan OC ini akan membawa keadilan dan pengakuan atas pekerjaan masyarakat yang terlibat dalam pekerjaan Zero Waste.

Merangkum sentimen dari semua key leaders, Nalini Shekar dari Hasiru Dala di India, menambahkan, “Laporan tersebut telah mempengaruhi para pengambil keputusan untuk mengalihkan sumber daya berharga yang dimaksudkan untuk solusi Zero Waste yang terdesentralisasi menjadi terpusat, praktik tidak berkelanjutan yang sangat mekanis dan menyebabkan kerugian lain bagi masyarakat. Namun, pencabutan laporan adalah langkah menuju penyembuhan dan membalikkan kerusakan yang dilakukan – menunjukkan sekali lagi bahwa Zero Waste adalah satu-satunya solusi yang berkelanjutan.

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Tentang GAIA – GAIA adalah aliansi di seluruh dunia yang terdiri dari lebih dari 800 kelompok, organisasi non-pemerintah, dan individu di lebih dari 90 negara. Dengan pekerjaan kami, kami bertujuan untuk mengkatalisasi perubahan global menuju keadilan lingkungan dengan memperkuat gerakan sosial akar rumput yang memajukan solusi untuk limbah dan polusi. Kami membayangkan dunia tanpa limbah yang adil yang dibangun dengan menghormati batas ekologis dan hak-hak masyarakat, di mana orang bebas dari beban polusi beracun, dan sumber daya dilestarikan secara berkelanjutan, tidak dibakar atau dibuang.

Kontak Media:

Sonia Astudillo, Senior Staf Komunikasi GAIA Asia Pasifik | sonia@no-burn.org | +63 9175969286

Vancher, staf komunikasi AZWI | vancher@aliansizerowaste.id | +62 812-8854-9493

Kia, staf komunikasi AZWI | kia@aliansizerowaste.id | +62 852-1580-9537

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Vietnamese

Bước nhảy vọt lịch sử trong cuộc chiến chống chủ nghĩa thực dân chất thải

Ngày 14 tháng 9 năm 2022 – Hôm nay, Liên minh Toàn cầu về Giải pháp Thay thế Lò đốt (GAIA) ở Châu Á Thái Bình Dương và các tổ chức thành viên của nó đã kết thúc bước đầu tiên của quy trình phục hồi công lý với tổ chức Ocean Conservancy (OC) có trụ sở tại Hoa Kỳ. Quy trình này nhằm mục đích giải quyết những thiệt hại trong nhiều năm do báo cáo “Stemming the Tide” gây ra (hiện đã bị xóa khỏi trang web của OC) bằng cách sửa lại câu chuyện và đồng ý thực hiện các hành động phục hồi theo yêu cầu của cộng đồng và các lĩnh vực bị ảnh hưởng nhiều nhất bởi báo cáo.

Trái ngược với báo cáo năm 2015 đặt trách nhiệm về rác thải nhựa lên vai 5 quốc gia châu Á (Trung Quốc, Indonesia, Philippines, Thái Lan và Việt Nam) trong khi bỏ qua vai trò của các nước phát triển trong việc sản xuất thừa nhựa và xuất khẩu chất thải, quá trình này đang dẫn đến điểm chung mới. Các thỏa thuận bao gồm ưu tiên các chính sách giảm thiểu nhựa, chuyển nguồn lực sang các giải pháp Không Chất thải, lên án các giải pháp sai lầm như đốt nhựa trong cái gọi là lò đốt “biến chất thải thành năng lượng” (WTE) và “tái chế hóa chất” và cơ chế trách nhiệm.

Froilan Grate, Điều phối viên GAIA Châu Á Thái Bình Dương chia sẻ: “Việc rút lại báo cáo chưa từng có tiền lệ này là một cơ hội để ngăn chặn chủ nghĩa thực dân chất thải nhiều thập kỷ qua”. “Ocean Conservancy có nhiệm vụ nâng cao nhận thức của các tổ chức và nhà hoạch định chính sách khác về câu chuyện sai sự thật được tuyên truyền bởi báo cáo. Chúng tôi kêu gọi tất cả các tổ chức tuân thủ các nguyên tắc tổ chức dân chủ khi tương tác với các cộng đồng ở các nước đang phát triển và tôn trọng các giải pháp dựa trên tình hình thực tế của cộng đồng”. Grate khuyến khích những người ủng hộ củng cố quy trình phục hồi công lý.

Được hình thành lần đầu tiên vào năm 1989, chủ nghĩa thực dân chất thải là quá trình các nước giàu và phát triển thể hiện sự thống trị so với các nước kém phát triển khác thông qua việc xuất khẩu chất thải độc hại, khiến các nước tiếp nhận (và thường là thiếu cơ sở hạ tầng) phải đối phó với chất thải, do đó ảnh hưởng nghiêm trọng tới cộng đồng và môi trường của họ.

Christie Keith, Điều phối viên Quốc tế của GAIA, giải thích, “Năm quốc gia châu Á được đề cập trong báo cáo không nên bị đổ lỗi cho rác thải nhựa. Lỗi đó nằm ở các tập đoàn đã sản xuất và đưa lượng nhựa ra môi trường ngày càng tăng – và những người đấu tranh cho các giải pháp không rác cộng đồng (Zero Waste Community) xứng đáng được tôn vinh và trân trọng, chứ không phải bị tấn công. Chúng tôi hoan nghênh cam kết của OC trong việc khắc phục những tác hại đã gây ra và đề cao các giải pháp Không Chất thải.”

Aditi Varshneya, Điều phối viên Thành viên GAIA Hoa Kỳ, cho biết thêm, “Stemming the Tide” cũng gây hại cho cộng đồng theo nhiều cách. Các phát hiện của báo cáo đã làm suy yếu những nỗ lực lâu dài của cộng đồng nhằm đạt được các chính sách bền vững về y tế, quản lý chất thải và tài trợ”.

Rahyang Nusantara của Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia nhấn mạnh rằng, “Báo cáo (‘ Stemming the Tide ’) đã gây hại cho cộng đồng của chúng tôi nhưng chúng tôi không phải là nạn nhân vì chúng tôi có các giải pháp.” David Sutasurya của Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB) cho biết thêm, “Chúng tôi có các giải pháp Không Chất thải để chống lại chất thải”. Sutasurya chia sẻ rằng trong năm đầu tiên của các khu vực thí điểm ở Bandung, các quận đã chuyển thành công 950 kg rác khỏi các bãi chôn lấp mỗi ngày và tiết kiệm được khoảng 63 triệu IDR (4.300 USD) chi phí vận chuyển rác.

Theo Satyarupa Shekhar, Điều phối viên Châu Á Thái Bình Dương của phong trào #breakfreefromplastic, “Báo cáo của OC, được soạn thảo bởi McKinsey & Company, một công ty tư vấn quản lý toàn cầu có khách hàng bao gồm một số nhà gây ô nhiễm nhựa hàng đầu thế giới, đã làm loãng các hạn chế hiện có về đốt rác và mở ra cánh cửa cho các giải pháp sai lầm và các bản sửa lỗi công nghệ gây tranh cãi để đối phó với cuộc khủng hoảng ô nhiễm nhựa. Một số ví dụ rõ ràng là: ở Philippines, nơi mà lệnh cấm đốt rác trên toàn quốc bị đe dọa bởi các đề xuất mới cho phép các nhà máy đốt rác phát điện và ở Indonesia, nơi chính phủ tiếp tục thúc đẩy đốt rác bất chấp phán quyết của Tòa án Tối cao đã thu hồi Quy định của Tổng thống số 18/2016, trong đó đẩy nhanh sự phát triển của các nhà máy điện hoặc lò đốt rác thải.”

Bên cạnh việc rút lại báo cáo, OC thừa nhận sai lầm của mình trong việc tập trung vào quản lý chất thải nhựa và xem xét lại quan điểm của mình về đốt rác phát điện và các công nghệ tương tự khác để đối phó với cuộc khủng hoảng chất thải nhựa đang gia tăng. OC cũng đã thừa nhận lỗi của mình khi không xem xét công việc của các cộng đồng địa phương và những ảnh hưởng sau đó của báo cáo đối với họ.

Hoan nghênh sự thay đổi quan điểm của OC, Aileen Lucero của Liên minh Ecowaste ở Philippines và Daru Rini của ECOTON ở Indonesia đã minh họa rằng cuộc khủng hoảng nhựa hiện nay không phải là vấn đề quản lý chất thải, mà thay vào đó, vấn đề cần được giải quyết bằng cách xem xét toàn bộ vòng đời của nhựa. Rini nói rằng, “vấn đề bắt đầu từ thời điểm nhiên liệu hóa thạch được chiết xuất để sản xuất nhựa sử dụng một lần (SUP).”

Chống lại các giải pháp sai lầm đối với ô nhiễm nhựa

Trong những năm gần đây, một số giải pháp sai lầm đã được đưa ra để chống lại cuộc khủng hoảng nhựa, từ đốt chất thải đến “tái chế hóa học”, chúng không giải quyết được toàn bộ vòng đời của nhựa.

Đối với Sonia Mendoza, Chủ tịch Quỹ Đất Mẹ tại Philippines, “Mỗi quốc gia phải chịu trách nhiệm về chất thải mà mình tạo ra và không xuất khẩu chúng dưới chiêu bài‘ thương mại ’. Đốt chất thải cũng không phải là một lựa chọn. Biến chất thải thành năng lượng (đốt rác phát điện) cũng có thể có nghĩa là: lãng phí năng lượng.”

Nhìn vào vòng đời của nhựa dùng một lần, Xuân Quách, Điều phối viên Liên minh Không rác Việt Nam, nhấn mạnh rằng “Đốt rác phát điện và tái chế hóa chất không bền vững”. Nindhita Proboretno thuộc Tổ chức Nexus 3 ở Indonesia cho biết thêm, “Những công nghệ đó không phải là giải pháp thân thiện với môi trường và không có chỗ đứng trong một thế giới đang đấu tranh chống lại biến đổi khí hậu”.

Xavier Sun, người sáng lập Liên minh Không chất thải Đài Loan, đồng ý, nói rằng các chiến lược như vậy chỉ “gây ra ô nhiễm độc hại hơn nữa (chẳng hạn như tro bụi, tro bay và khí nhà kính (GHG) gây hại cho khí hậu và sức khỏe con người của chúng ta. Ngoài ra, chúng khuyến khích tiếp tục sản xuất nhựa, và phá hoại các giải pháp thực sự.”

Hướng tới Không Chất Thải

Trong khi đó, Merci Ferrer chiến binh của Chống Rác thải (WOW-BFFP) – Negros Oriental ở Philippines, nói thêm rằng “Quá trình này với OC sẽ mang lại công lý và sự công nhận cho công việc của các cộng đồng tham gia vào công việc Không Chất thải”.

Tóm tắt ý kiến của tất cả các nhà lãnh đạo chủ chốt, Nalini Shekar của Hasiru Dala ở Ấn Độ cho biết thêm, “Báo cáo Stemming the Tide của OC đã ảnh hưởng đến các nhà hoạch định chính sách để chuyển hướng các nguồn lực có giá trị dành cho các giải pháp Zero Waste phi tập trung sang các hoạt động không bền vững tập trung, mang tính cơ học cao và gây ra những tổn hại khác cho cộng đồng. Tuy nhiên, việc rút lại báo cáo là một bước hướng tới việc chữa lành và khắc phục những thiệt hại đã gây ra – một lần nữa cho thấy rằng Zero Waste là giải pháp bền vững duy nhất”.

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GAIA là một liên minh trên toàn thế giới gồm hơn 800 nhóm cơ sở, tổ chức phi chính phủ và cá nhân tại hơn 90 quốc gia. Với công việc của mình, chúng tôi đặt mục tiêu thúc đẩy sự thay đổi toàn cầu hướng tới công bằng môi trường bằng cách tăng cường các phong trào xã hội cấp cơ sở nhằm thúc đẩy các giải pháp chống lãng phí và ô nhiễm. Chúng tôi hình dung một thế giới công bằng, không rác thải được xây dựng dựa trên sự tôn trọng các giới hạn sinh thái và quyền của cộng đồng, nơi mọi người không phải chịu gánh nặng ô nhiễm độc hại và các nguồn tài nguyên được bảo tồn bền vững, không bị đốt cháy hoặc đổ bỏ.

Ante la amenaza de la licitación para implementar una planta de termovalorización en Colombia, las asociaciones de recicladores de todo el país se reunieron para discutir todas las medidas de retroceso que dificultan el futuro de su trabajo.

En mayo de este año la alcaldesa de Bogotá, Claudia López, anunció que la ciudad  tendrá la primera planta de termovalorización de Colombia, que según indican contaría con un “sistema de limpieza de emisiones atmosféricas” y que contribuiría a la reducción de emisiones de efecto invernadero que se generan en el enterramiento de residuos.  

Pero el nuevo anuncio, viene acompañado de una larga y ya conocida historia conocida por los miembros de nuestra red. Se habla de sus grandes beneficios ambientales, que es limpia, que ya se ha instalado en otros países, sobre todo los países europeos, (ejemplo que tanto gusta dar a las empresas), que genera puestos de empleo, e incluso que es un ejemplo de economía circular. Sin embargo, nada se ha dicho de los daños que genera la incineración de residuos, de cómo comunidades empobrecidas han sufrido los impactos ambientales y a la salud cuando llegan estas plantas a sus barrios, no hay declaraciones que mencionen cómo se alinearán las políticas ambientales orientadas a la reducción de residuos con los cientos de toneladas de residuos que necesita una planta de incineración para mantener su funcionamiento, y en un tema clave en América Latina, nada se ha dicho de cómo una planta termovalorizadora vulnerará el trabajo de los miles de recicladores de Colombia. 

La Asociación cooperativa de recicladores de Bogotá tiene una gestión desde 1987, desde el cierre de los botaderos a cielo abierto en Colombia. Han sido años de trabajo, de lucha por sus derechos y por el reconocimiento de un oficio que sí contribuye a la gestión social y medioambientalmente responsable, que los ha puesto como un modelo exitoso a nivel mundial de organización e inclusión en modelos de gestión de residuos, por eso, el anuncio de una planta de incineración es una bofetada a las soluciones reales y de base.

Ante esta situación, más de 700 recicladores se reunieron para profundizar en las verdaderas implicancias ambientales y laborales que tendría una planta de termovalorización en Colombia, en un foro donde se compartieron experiencias internacionales que detallaron los altos riesgos que han vivido las comunidades que ya cuentan con plantas incineradoras en sus territorios.

Los recicladores presentes, exigieron que se protejan las condiciones para que el sistema de manejo de residuos local se materialice en proyectos que realmente recuperen los residuos y eleve el trabajo de los recicladores y no en falsas soluciones como la incineración. Las agrupaciones tienen claro que una incineradora no haría más que profundizar la vulneración, no solo contra los recicladores sino contra la humanidad porque según han señalado, proponer la implementación de una planta de termovalorización de residuos a una escala de 3 mil toneladas día, es una medida desproporcionada y una amenaza grave de alta contaminación, y como si lo anterior no fuera suficiente, es también la condena a la desaparición del sistema de reciclaje con recicladores en Colombia.

Gracias al sistema de gestión que han desarrollado cerca de 20 mil recicladores de oficio en Bogotá, la ciudad no solo ha logrado aportar más del 50% de las materias primas recuperadas que son suministro a las empresas de productos de consumo masivo como por ejemplo el papel higiénico. Los recicladores desvían del relleno sanitario más del 20% (más de 1.500 toneladas diarias) de los residuos que se generan en la ciudad. 

En Colombia, más de 20 mil recicladores han prestado el servicio de rescate de residuos por más de 80 años, han avanzado, por ejemplo, en pequeñas unidades de aprovechamiento de plásticos y han conseguido el aseguramiento del mínimo vital. Todo esto está en riesgo de convertirse literalmente en cenizas si las autoridades no toman las decisiones correctas. Por eso han pedido a la ministra de Medio Ambiente que debe poner la propuesta de quema de basuras en el mismo grado de inconveniencia que el fracking y pedir a la alcaldía de Bogotá modificar sus propuestas relacionadas con incineración y enterramiento indiscriminado de basuras.

Las y los recicladores de base saben mejor que nadie lo que es luchar por defender su oficio, por eso, este foro marca tan solo el comienzo de las movilizaciones para hacer frente a las falsas soluciones como la incineración. 

Lecturas recomendadas:

https://www.no-burn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Borrador-documento-es-4-1.pdf

https://www.no-burn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/GAIA.incinerandoelfuturo.pdf

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