Why Incineration Won’t Solve #APlasticOcean — And The Beautiful Solutions We Do Have

Plastic waste constitutes between 60% and 80% of marine debris and is “one of the world’s most pervasive pollution problems impacting our oceans and waterways,” according to the U.N. Over the past 60 years, plastics production and waste have dramatically increased.

From raw material extraction through to plastic polluting the ocean, plastics represent the failure of a predominantly fossil fuel based, linear economic system. A problem this complex and embedded in our societies and economies requires solutions that address the cross-sector nature of the problem and are built upon sustainable, socially, and environmentally just frameworks that deliver permanent solutions and the deep changes we need.

GAIA is proud to be a founding member of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement which includes hundreds of organizations worldwide committed to a world free of plastic pollution. As a movement, we believe in holistic solutions that address the root cause of plastic pollution and work to reduce it first and foremost. We believe that all solutions should sustain the health of people and the planet and include community involvement and worker rights.

As a movement, we assert that as part of our pathway to world free of plastic pollution, no new incinerators should be constructed, and renewable energy incentives should be eliminated for plastics and waste burning. This includes gasification, pyrolysis, cement kilns, and other burn “waste-to-energy” facilities. These are false solutions that take us backward in our work for healthy oceans and people.

Check out GAIA staff member Anne Larracas’ words on the kinds of solutions we are building for plastic pollution —and the necessity of the global south as leaders in the solutions, and our factsheet on why incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, and plasma arc are NOT solutions for plastic pollution.