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

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

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

Key Highlights

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


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

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

IRA Overview

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

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

Threats & False Solutions

Lifelines to Old, Failing Incinerators

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

Codifying False and Greenwashed Definitions

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

IRA Breakdown & Opportunities for the Incinerator Lobby 

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

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

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

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

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) 

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

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

Lending Programs

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

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

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

Call to Action 

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

Treasury Engagement

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

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

State-level Renewable Portfolio Standards 

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

IRA Lending Subsidies

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GAIA’s response: Waste and the climate crisis

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

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

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

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


Media Contacts: 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Manila, Philippines – June 16, 2023 –  In an online forum with the National Press Club of the Philippines, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives – Asia Pacific stated that the amount of climate finance and complex facilities are on the rise but may end up fuelling the poly-crises shaping the majority of poor people in the region. 

GAIA Asia Pacific said that the region is still suffering from a continuing pandemic, an energy and food crisis stemming from a war in Europe, and heavy debt burdens in which environmental risks are at the top of the crises. “Talks on clean energy and just transition are bereft of this regional context. We are merely being offered more loans for expensive and dirty techno-fixes in developing countries”, Miriam Azurin, Deputy Director of GAIA Asia Pacific said. 

The group said that the continued financial and policy support of international financial institutions (IFIs) for Waste-to-Energy (WtE) incinerators will deepen the multiple crises as these projects pose complex environmental and social risks, Since 2009, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) alone has invested more than US $700 million of public money on WtE incinerators and has since convinced the public that it is a source of clean energy and cost-efficient waste disposal system. 

“A plan for a just transition should include payments for compensation for the communities as a result of investing in this harmful technology. We are merely being offered an energy plan without provisions  on how to recognize, protect and fullfil human rights including the right to a clean and healthy environment”, Azurin said. 

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner, said that numerous longitudinal studies have shown that WtE is an environmentally hazardous method for both energy generation and waste disposal. “Incinerators with or without energy recovery release harmful pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals, microplastics, greenhouse gases, and other toxic residues. 

“Many of these pollutants are poorly regulated or not regulated at all, posing risks to environmental protection and public health. Additionally, incineration is a carbon-intensive and energy-intensive process that heavily depends on plastic waste which is a  fossil fuel-derived material,  studies show incinerators are four times more carbon-intensive than coal,” he added. 

GAIA Asia Pacific also warns the public of increased interest in policy lending by ADB saying this could pose permanent harm when it proposes and lends for false solutions like WtE incinerators. “ADB wants to provide security for the private sector when they participate in energy projects. A critical component is by creating laws that would ensure the sustainability of the operation of WtE plants which include a subsidy for capital outlay and operational costs thereby creating the policy and investment infrastructure for permanent damage from this technology”, Putra said. 

In the Philippines, the ADB was instrumental in providing policy advice in favor of WtE which undermines the national ban on incinerators as stated in the Clean Air Act. It also provided support for marketing and assisting local government units to accept and review bids through various technical assistance projects. “Today, there are already four proposed WtE plants in the pipelines set to be constructed in protected environmental areas and near marginalized communities”.  Teody Navea, Ecowaste Coalition Cebu said. He added there were no meaningful consultations to integrate communities and local experts’ insights on risks associated with the projects and examine practical alternatives. 

Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of the Ecowaste Coalition said the WtE facilities will be a financial burden to Filipinos and will only turn the garbage problem into a more persistent environmental problem. A WtE bill is being proposed in the Senate and Congress despite  the European Union’s shift away from technology.

The European Union (EU), despite its advanced technology and monitoring systems, has excluded burning waste as part of the transition towards a circular economy, highlighting that it does significant harm to its environmental objectives of waste prevention and recycling. 

Afrah Ismali, Zero Waste Maldives co-founder said that a lot of communities and non-profit organizations are working on zero waste systems. He appealed to IFIs to withdraw their financing for the WTE plant. “We do not need more debts and dirty technologies”, he added.   


Media Contacts:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer | | +63 917 596 9286 

Mayang Azurin, GAIA Asia Pacific Deputy Director | | +63 945 319 0186

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific Climate and Clean Energy Officer | |  +62 821 2818 4440

Communities hold a Day of Action Against Incineration as the Asia Clean Energy Forum goes underway

Manila, Philippines – June 10, 2023 – The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives  (GAIA) in Asia Pacific will hold a Day of Action Against Incineration during the Asian Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) happening from June 13 to 16, 2023 at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Headquarters in Manila. Seeing this year’s ACEF as another venue for promoting false solutions such as waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration, the event aims to bring attention to the urgent need to stop WtE incinerators and raise awareness on its impact on people’s health, livelihood, and the environment.  

GAIA Asia Pacific Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner, Yobel Novian Putra, stresses, “Incineration is a dirty and dangerous way both to generate energy and dispose of waste. Incinerators emit harmful pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals, microplastics, greenhouse gases, and other toxic residues. Many of these pollutants are under-regulated or not regulated at all, placing the protection of the environment and public health at risk. It is also a highly carbon-intensive and energy-intensive process that heavily relies on fossil fuels to function.”

Recognizing the detrimental effects of WtE incineration, the European Union (EU), despite its advanced technology and monitoring systems has excluded burning waste as part of the transition towards a circular economy, highlighting that it does significant harm to its environmental objectives of waste prevention and recycling.

However, in the Asia Pacific region, international financing institutions (IFIs) such as the ADB continue to put forward WtE incineration as a single solution to waste and energy issues. Mayang Azurin, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Deputy Director states, “IFIs including the ADB should stop investing in technologies that are not only harmful to the environment but are also against people’s fundamental rights to health and livelihood. Support for waste incineration is against the goal of a just energy transition that the bank proudly claims it champions.”

She adds,” WtE incinerators not only create debt traps for cities as maintenance and other operational costs are too costly to sustain but WtE incinerators also displace waste pickers and workers from the waste supply chain both physically and economically. Waste-burning facilities are often built at landfills and in so doing, uproot waste pickers from their communities and deprive them of their source of livelihood. This will happen for at least two decades once a plant is operational and will suck public funds away from improving their livelihood.”

In the Philippines, ADB was instrumental in providing policy advice in favor of WtE, marketing and assisting local government units to accept and review bids despite a standing ban on incinerators through various technical assistance projects. Cebu City was one of the city recipients of technical assistance from ADB which results in an increasing number of WtE incinerator proposals in the City endangering protected areas and communities. 

“The ADB is the largest development investor on WtE incinerators and we strongly recommend the cessation of their support. They are burning the planet, our money, and  our lives.” Azurin asserts.

This week, it’s time for action and to stand against waste incinerators, GAIA Asia Pacific and allies are calling out governments and businesses, the ADB in particular, to phase out incineration and invest in clean energy solutions. Incineration is a false solution to the waste problem. It is dirty, dangerous, and too expensive for developing countries to afford. We need to move forward to a Zero Waste future. 

GAIA is calling on to immediately:

  1. Have a moratorium and retirement of all existing incinerators;
  2. Cancel all planned incinerator projects; and
  3. Stop all support for new incinerators.

The Day of Action Against Incineration will feature a variety of events and here are some ways you can participate in the Day of Action Against Incineration:

  • Write to your elected officials and tell them to stop funding incinerators.
  • Contact financial institutions and tell them to stop investing in incinerators.
  • Spread the word about the dangers of incinerators on social media and in your community by joining us using these hashtags: using the hashtags #FalseSolutionsExposed, #Burnt, and #DayofActionAgainstIncineration

Together, we can create a better future without incinerators.

For photos and videos of the Day of Action Media Briefing at the Saturday News Forum, click here.

Media Contacts:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer | | +63 917 596 9286 

Mayang Azurin, GAIA Asia Pacific Deputy Director | | +63 945 319 0186

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific Climate and Clean Energy Officer | |  +62 821 2818 4440

Interview with  Chong Tek Lee and Lam Choong  Wah by Dan Abril

Established in 2014, Gabungan Anti-Insinerator Kebangsaan (GAIK) is the result of different organizations uniting to oppose the construction of waste-to-energy (WtE) incinerators across Malaysia. 

These four organizations: Selamatkan Bukit Payong, Gabungan Anti Insinerator Cameron Highlands, Jawatankuasa Anti Insinerator Tanah Merah, and Jawatankuasa Bertindak Kuala Lumpur Tak Nak Insinerator (KTI) joined hands determined to convince the Malaysian Government to put an immediate halt to the development of WtE facilities and to instead adopt a more effective and sustainable waste management strategy: Zero Waste.

At the time it was founded, GAIK faced three mega-incinerators. The group managed to succeed  in halting the construction of one  of these incinerators. However, the Malaysian government hasn’t stopped pushing for WtE incineration and has plans to construct at least one mega- incinerator per state. Today, GAIK is an alliance of 10 individuals and 5 non-government organizations (NGOs) still united in their fight against incinerators. 

Photo courtesy of GAIK

We had the chance to sit down with GAIK Committee Member, Lam Choong Wah and one of GAIK’s founders, Chong Tek Lee and  during our discussion, we explored GAIK’s beginnings, their current actions, the difficulties they face,  and their goals and visions for the future. 

What are GAIK’s main campaigns?

We are primarily focused on anti-incineration campaigns and Zero Waste. 

We are still a small organization and there’s only one partner organization,  which is also a GAIA member, Zero Waste Malaysia, that works on Zero Waste so we’re also working on getting more non-government organizations (NGOs) and concerned individuals to get involved.

Since WtE incinerator proposals mostly happen in densely populated areas, we approach residents and help them mobilize against these “monsters”. For the Malaysian government, burning waste is the fastest solution to waste and people should oppose it – as much as we can. 

What are GAIK’s biggest achievements and accomplishments?

We successfully lobbied against the construction of a WtE incinerator in one state. In Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, after a series of protests, we managed to convince the authorities to not move forward with the project and  then in Johor, the authorities are still carrying on with but we lodged a report at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and urged the commission to probe the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government over their awarding of contracts for incinerator projects. Then in 2019, We also organized a large forum focused on Zero Waste and anti-incineration and planned to have more similar events after. 

What challenges are you facing and how was your work impacted by the COVID crisis?

Since we are a very small organization, our resources are very limited. It can also be difficult to locate WtE proposals in the country. Currently, there are at least 13 WtE proposals – one for each region. When one proposal is rejected by residents, the government only moves to another location. 

Right now there is one being proposed in Selangor State and is planned to accept garbage from neighboring regions. 

It is not always easy to go against these proposals. People are not always ready to fight these “monsters”. People can be scared as authorities take the identification numbers of residents. 

The pandemic made it more difficult for us, all our activities were put on hold and so our targets were not met. It is only now – after three years – that we have become fully active again.

Photo courtesy of GAIK

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

We have a significant problem with single-use plastics (SUPs). We try not to use SUPs such as straws or plastic bags but some tourists and non-Malaysians still need to be aware about the immensity of plastic pollution. Yes, SUPs are used everywhere but you have to lose things to gain better things. There will be a ban on SUPs by 2025 but it needs to be developed further and we need to work with the government on that.  

Another issue is that the waste trade is still happening. We often receive news from WhatsApp groups but these are not widely publicized. China, a developing country, was able to ban it. Malaysia is also a developing country and we should also put a stop to this practice because we pay a lot more in terms of environmental damage. A lot of these waste exports end up in landfills. Some activists are trying to put a stop to it but owners of facilities accepting waste exports can have so much power and be able to prevent people from even entering their area. 

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

We need to increase the number of people and organizations joining us. There are a lot of people practicing Zero Waste but they are not organized. Currently, GAIA members The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), Zero Waste Malaysia, and the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)  are potential GAIK  members. We need to be united to be strong since  it is not easy to go against authorities. That is the solution that we would like to achieve: for GAIK to be a show of force. 

We are praying that the Malaysian government will listen to the people and work with them. You cannot go far if your government does not cooperate. 

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

What goes on in another country affects us. Like in Singapore, they burn waste and the smoke from their incinerator goes to Malaysia. Unfortunately, there are no organizations in Singapore to oppose incinerators – the government is too harsh. 

In some countries, people are too poor and are too worried about their bread and butter that they cannot think about environmental issues. We are hoping that soon, we can all work together as a region and address our persistent environmental issues. 

Photo courtesy of GAIK

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

We work with organizations such as GAIA. We joined GAIA’s Regional Meeting in Vietnam last April.  We met up with a lot of GAIA members and saw we can build a coalition with other Southeast Asian countries to launch Zero Waste or anti-incineration campaigns. We believe that there is power in numbers and alliances such as GAIA are important. If you want to learn, you need to learn hand-in-hand with other people. 

How does your work on waste relate to social justice? 

This is really hard for me to answer but then also remember that rubbish is collected and transported to other areas. This is not healthy for receiving communities and so are the working conditions for those involved. Change cannot happen overnight and we think we are helping with our Zero Waste strategies. 

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

We admire Greenpeace Malaysia. They work really hard! Mr. Heng Kiah Chun of Greenpeace is particularly admirable. If something comes up, it takes only one message to our group and all NGOs are quick to respond. 

To know more about GAIK and their campaigns, you can visit the We Anti Kepong Incinerator on Facebook. The group is actively engaged in campaigns and initiatives to oppose the construction of the incinerator and raise awareness about its potential environmental and health impacts.

No More Excuses, ADB! Prioritize Sustainable Solutions and Stop Funding Harmful Waste-to-Energy (WtE) Incinerators

02 May 2023 –  The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is increasingly promoting waste-to-energy (WtE) projects in its energy and urban development portfolios as a way to achieve low-carbon economies and sustainable cities. However, according to GAIA Asia Pacific, this approach will have negative consequences for the environment and informal workers in the waste sector in the region. They are likely to be the hardest hit by the Bank’s preference for WtE incinerators as a waste and climate solution.

After months of civil society campaigning on the environmental and social risks of WtE, ADB has approved its Energy Policy aimed at supporting low-carbon transition in the region still identifying WtE as a priority investment but emphasizing that priority goes to reducing waste generation, then exploiting the options for reusing and recycling materials, then using waste to recover energy or usable materials and securing livelihoods . However, ADB approved a 20 million USD loan for a WtE project in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam without clearly following the order of priority. This is very disappointing because ADB’s previous 100 million loan WtE project in Can Tho (Vietnam) has failed to comply with its safeguards policy, particularly on dioxins monitoring — a highly toxic substance acknowledged by the Stockholm Convention and the World Health Organization (WHO).  WtE incinerators also figure as a replacement fuel in ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) for repurposing of early-retired coal-fired power plants. 

WtE incinerators displace waste pickers that provide important roles in the segregation, collection, transport, storage, and recycling of waste. WtE plants are designed to operate and burn resources for at least 20 years. They are highly dependent on dry, mostly recyclables, especially plastic — which is derived from fossil fuels.  They rely on income from selling recyclables and as a result, divert waste from landfills causing environmental pollution and methane emissions. “In some cases, the establishment of WtE incinerators can also lead to the displacement of waste pickers from their homes and communities, exacerbating their already precarious economic situation,” said Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner.  

The ADB must prioritize sustainable waste management solutions such as composting, recycling, and waste reduction programs. These solutions not only reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills or incinerators, but they also create local job opportunities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, prioritizing sustainable solutions empowers communities to manage their waste and supports the informal waste sector, creating a more equitable and just transition.

“Financing for WtE incinerators works against waste pickers. ADB must recognize the rights of waste pickers including their historical, social, and economic contributions they provide to society. To date, ADB’s WtE incinerator and waste management projects have not considered the impacts of their interventions on waste pickers’ livelihoods,” said Kabir Arora, National Coordinator of the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers. “Instead, they must support communities’ efforts towards recognition of waste pickers and a full range of programs to ensure that interventions are fair for waste pickers. 

AIW stressed that ADB’s just transition program must emphasize supporting waste pickers and other workers who are most vulnerable to occupation disruption from waste management investments and climate change. It must build and improve upon systems that waste pickers have already established while guaranteeing, better and decent work, social protection, more training opportunities, appropriate technology transfer, support for infrastructure and organizing of workers, and greater job security for workers at all stages of the waste sector. Arora further added that waste pickers groups must be part of the design, monitoring, and evaluation of projects. 

Putra stressed, “WtE incinerators are not a solution to the pressing issues of waste and energy. They release nearly 1.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere for every tonne of waste burnt. In many studies, an incinerator emits more greenhouse gas than a coal-fired power plant.” 

These emissions also pose serious health risks to nearby communities, emitting harmful pollutants such as dioxins, furans, and heavy metals, which can cause respiratory problems, cancer, and developmental disorders. Moreover, the toxic ash and other waste products generated by such facilities pose a significant challenge to safe disposal.

Investing in WtE incinerators comes at a significant financial cost, increasing waste management expenses, and posing a significant financial risk to cities and municipalities. Taxpayers bear the burden of these costs through false subsidies taken from national and local government budgets to sustain the operation of incinerators for 20-25 years.

Further, Deputy Director of GAIA Asia Pacific Mayang Azurin argued for the urgent need to redirect funding towards sustainable solutions. “Continued financing of WtE incinerators, carbon storage, and other false solutions is not the path to decarbonization and Asia’s recovery and energy transition,” she said. “There is no time to waste. It is urgent that we prioritize the health of our planet and communities over corporate interests.”

GAIA AP urges ADB to reaffirm its commitment to sustainable development and shift funding towards proven zero waste solutions. GAIA calls ADB to cease funding harmful waste-to-energy incinerators and prioritize sustainable waste management solutions that empower communities and protect the health of the environment and communities.


Arora, K. (2022 October 4). Global Plastics-Treaty: Waste Pickers Ready to Talk. WIEGO

Coca, N. (2022 October 24). Why informal workers are opposing waste-to-energy technology in South-East Asia. Equal Times. Last accessed 2023 April 24.

GAIA (ND) The Hidden Climate Polluter: Plastic Incineration. GAIA. Last accessed 2023 April 24

GAIA (2012 February). Incinerators: Myths and Facts About Waste-to-Energy Incinerators [Fact Sheet]

GAIA (2018 Nov). ADB & Waste Incineration: Bankrolling Pollution, Blocking Solutions. 

GAIA (2022). Zero Waste to Zero Emissions

IJgosse, J. (2019 August). Waste Incineration and Informal Livelihoods: A Technical Guide on Waste-to-Energy Initiatives. WIEGO. 

IPEN (2017 April 200)  Toxic Ash Poisons Our Food Chain. Last Accessed 2023 April 24.

Muffet, C., Bernhardt, C., Kelso (2019 May 15). The Hidden Cost of Plastic. CIEL

NGO Forum on ADB. (2021 October 18). NGO Forum on ADB’s Critique of the ADB’s 2021 Energy Policy Working Paper. Last accessed 2023 April 24.

Robb. E., (2020 September 2020) No Time To Waste: The Climate Impacts of Incineration and Waste-to-Energy. Zero Waste Europe. Last accessed 2023 April 24

Roberts-Davis, T.L., (2022 December) The Asian Development Bank’s Transition Mechanism. Fair Finance Asia and the NGO Forum on ADB.


Zero Waste Asia Newsroom: #ADBIncheon Updates #1

Zero Waste Asia Newsroom: #ADBIncheon Updates #2

Zero Waste Asia Newsroom: #ADBIncheon Updates #3

NGO Forum on ADB: Civil Society Groups Speak Out at ADB Annual Meeting

The Reality of AID Network: More than a hundred CSOs demand people-centered solutions over intersecting economic, development and climate challenges

Relief Web: CSO Collective Statement for the 56th ADB Annual Meeting

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.

[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 .”


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.


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

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


Dan Abril I Communications Associate I Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) – Pacific I I +63917 419 4426

Archie Abellar I Zero Waste Philippine Coordinator I Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) – Pacific I I +63908 770 0681

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.