Reducing, reusing, and recycling municipal waste is one of the easiest and most effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also provides gainful employment to millions of people in the developing world, mostly in the informal sector. Yet rather than supporting these efforts, climate funds such as the Clean Development Mechanism are subsidizing incinerators and landfill gas systems, which compete directly with recycling and increase emissions, unemployment, and public costs.
Gasification and pyrolysis attempt to convert solid waste into synthetic gas or oils, followed by combustion (in the U.S. and the EU they are regulated as waste incinerators). This report finds that while there is little data available on the operations of attempted commercial facilities, there are numerous examples of plants that have been forced to shut down due to technical failures and financial failures.