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[greenyes] [GAIA] Governments and Citizens Urged: Go for Zero Waste, Reject Incineration

Apologies for Cross-Postings

From: "Gigie Cruz" <gigie.gaia@no.address>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 09:29:26 +0800

Governments and Citizens Urged:
Go for Zero Waste, Reject Incineration

21 April 2004, Manila. On the eve of Earth Day 2004, a global environmental
health coalition today launched a report that promises a sustainable remedy to the
rising waste problems in developing countries. The report Resources up in Flames:
The Economic Pitfalls of Incineration versus a Zero Waste Approach in the Global
South was released by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), who
challenged policy makers to redirect the millions of dollars lined up for incinerators
into waste prevention and reduction and zero waste systems. Says Ann Leonard,
GAIA Co-Coordinator: ?Incineration encourages a one-way flow of materials on a
finite planet. It makes the task of conserving resources and reducing waste more
difficult, not easier. Policy makers and citizens need to work together to advance
sustainable community-based solutions, without incineration. ?

According to Resources up in Flames, prepared by the Institute for Local Self-
Reliance (ILSR) in Washington, D.C. for GAIA, municipal solid waste
incinerators?no matter where they are built?have numerous liabilities. In addition
to generating pollution and harming public health, they:

· Place huge financial burdens on host communities;
· Drain local communities of financial resources;
· Waste energy and materials;
· Thwart local economic development;
· Undermine waste prevention and rational approaches to discard
· Have an operating experience checkered with problems;
· Can go financially bankrupt from tonnage shortfalls; and
· Often leave citizens and taxpayers paying the bill.

At least 16 jurisdictions worldwide have banned or restricted municipal solid waste
incineration. Chicago, California?s Alameda County, and Rhode Island are U.S.
examples. The Philippines is the first country to explicitly ban all types of waste

Brenda Platt, Co-Director of ILSR and the primary author of the report, asks: ?Why
invest millions of dollars in a technology that at the end of 30 years leaves you with
a pile of potentially toxic ash, when that same money could be redirected to readily
available cheaper and safer options that create many more jobs, new businesses,
and wealth for local communities.? The report indicates that just sorting recyclables
alone in the U.S. can sustain at least 11 times the number of jobs as incineration on
a per-ton basis.

While the report introduces the concept and need for zero waste planning and
highlights the growing worldwide zero-waste movement and numerous examples of
communities embracing such an approach, it emphasizes that non-burn alternatives
are within reach of communities today and can pay immediate economic dividends.
In the global South, where organic material?yard trimmings and food scraps?is
the single largest component of the waste stream, appropriately designed
composting programs will be the easiest, quickest, and least-expensive method to
divert discards from disposal.

Resources up in Flames: The Economic Pitfalls of Incineration versus a Zero Waste
Approach in the Global South is a 75-page report, supported by more than 100
footnotes. It contains hard-hitting facts, model programs, and failed incinerator
examples. The first half of the report is devoted to the economic problems posed by
incinerators and includes a section on how to evaluate a planned incinerator. The
second half focuses on non-burn alternatives readily available, and concludes with a
10-step plan for getting starting on the path toward zero waste at the local level. The
report is available as a PDF file on GAIA?s web site, located at It is being translated into more than a dozen languages. Resources up in
Flames is the third report published by GAIA since it was formed in December 2000.
GAIA released The World Bank Group and Incineration: Bankrolling Dirty
Technologies in 2002 and Waste Incineration: A Dying Technology in 2003.

GAIA is an international alliance of community-based organizations, research and
policy advocacy institutions, citizen pressure groups and other nonprofit
organizations and individuals working to end the burning of all types of discards and
to promote clean production, zero waste, and sustainable waste management
systems. It has offices in Quezon City, the Philippines and Berkeley, California. For
more information on GAIA, log onto its web site at

Media contacts:

Gigie Cruz/Abigail Jabines, GAIA Secretariat, Manila Philippines -
Tel: + 63 2 929 0376, Fax: + 63 2 436 4733 Mobile: + 639205956958
for US Press Monica Wilson, GAIA, Berkeley- mwilson@no.address
for Latin American Press Cecilia Allen, GAIA, Argentina - cecilia.allen@no.address

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