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[GreenYes] SIGN ON: Oppose incineration in Africa as "Appropriate Technology"
from Tim Krupnik of the Ecology Center, Berkeley. Please respond to

Please review the material below. The British NGO "Intermediate
Technology Consultants" (ITC) is promoting waste incineration in
Africa as a strategy for waste management. It is possible to review
their project at:

Please review the letter below and sign on. We would like to garner
as many signatures from activists, academics and NGO's from around
the world in the hopes that ITC, who generally do excellent work in
technology transfer and development, will reconsider polluting
technologies in favor of recycling and zero waste strategies. PLEASE

I will collect signatures for about a week, then forward them all to ITC.

Dear Intermediate Technology Consultants,

We are writing concerning the involvement of the Intermediate Technology
Development Consultant Group’s current project on municipal waste
incineration, particularly in Africa. I was made aware of this project by
Oliver Wakelin’s recent article “Test-rig for Municipal Waste Incinerator”
published in the ITC newsletter. As individuals from around the world
working on waste management, we are disturbed by the ITC’s support of a
technology that is widely regarded as inappropriate, energy intensive,
wasteful and dangerous.

Your project states that you are now supporting waste incineration as an
alternative to open burning. It is true that open burning of waste materials
poses severe problems in the third world. Open burning is a direct source of
toxic pollution, aversely impacting the health of surrounding communities.
Moreover, burning destroys potentially useful material such as discards that
be reclaimed for recycling and composting. But waste incineration is not a
solution to the problem of open burning; all of these above problems with
open burning also apply to waste incineration.

While Oliver Waken’s article states that incineration tests produced
pollution levels “well within permitted limits,” we submit that there are in
fact no acceptable limits to airborne pollution. The last ten years has seen
an unprecedented shift in public opinion regarding municipal waste
incineration. There are numerous international campaigns against the
expansion of such practices across the third world. The World Bank has been
petitioned to cease the funding of this wasteful technology. The recent
World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa was
successful as a “Zero Waste” event whereby waste reduction and recycling
were made a priority; no waste was incinerated, thus eliminating the waste
problem at its source. Such efforts are the appropriate path forward--
incineration is not.

Specifically, We are concerned about the extension of waste incineration
technology for the following reasons:
• Incineration, (even with a feedstock free of “hazardous wastes”)
contributes to air pollution, global warming and the production of dangerous
toxins. It is impossible to escape this fact. According to a hallmark report
by the Grassroots Recycling Network, even “state of the art” incinerators in
the industrialized world produce acid gasses, mercury, dioxin and furans. In
the US, this has meant the scrapping of plans to construct over 248
municipal waste incinerators since 1988. While controlled incineration may
be seen as a “step up” from open burning, it is nonetheless not a solution
to the waste epidemic.
• Incineration is a wasteful technology. Many of the materials ignited in
waste incinerators are useful resources: solid wastes can be reclaimed for
recycling and reprocessing, organic wastes can be converted into much needed
compost and soil amendments, etc. The extension of this technology to
Africa, where these materials could be used to the direct benefit of the
poor is especially disturbing.
• Incineration is energy intensive and environmentally unsound. Studies
indicate that the energy produced through incineration pales in comparison
to the energy saved by recycling and reusing waste materials. Incineration
results in only 28% the net reduction in energy use saved by recycling of
material wastes.
• Incineration does not eliminate waste: the remaining ash is toxic and must
be carefully managed and landfilled. Otherwise, public health is at serious
• Finally, Zero Waste and recycling programs create more jobs than
incineration, which is especially important in regions like Africa. Zero
Waste strategies seek to eliminate waste, reduce the quantities and
toxicities of materials used, and reuse, recycle or compost discarded
materials. The funds spent on the production of incinerators would better
assist the poor through recycling employment opportunities.

As a leading NGO doing work on the extension of socially and ecologically
appropriate technologies, it is disturbing that ITC would advise
incineration as a means of waste reduction. Incineration is in direct
conflict with EF Schumacher’s intermediate technology vision for the
extension of appropriate, non-polluting and resource conserving technologies
to the global south.

In summary, incineration is not a solution to the problem of waste. A group
such as the ITC should promote waste reduction, re-use and recycling efforts
over an inadequate, polluting, wasteful technology such as incineration. The
solution to the waste crisis in the third world lies not in the use of these
environmentally and socially detrimental technologies. Instead, the true
solution lies in the education of communities and industry regarding waste
reduction, the dangers of open burning, and the potential for material
recovery, recycling and reuse.

We advise that the ITC reconsider this effort in favor of a waste education,
reduction and recycling programs aimed at eliminating waste materials at
their source. Thank you for considering these points. We appreciate the good
work ITC has done, and we hope that better strategies will be implemented in
the future.


Timothy J Krupnik
Recycling/ Waste Management Consultant at the Ecology Center (Berkeley, Ca)
International Agricultural Development, University of California, Davis
Member, The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

For more information on appropriate waste reduction strategies, please see:


Tim Krupnik
Recycling/Waste Management Consultant at the The Ecology Center (Berkeley
International Agricultural Development Graduate Student (UC Davis).,

47% of the world's grain production is used for animal feed. The same amount
of grain could feed more than 2 billion people. In Brazil, the area planted
with soy beans could feed 40 million people if sown with corn and beans,
which are mutually benefiting crops. The world's six larger grain merchants
control 90% the global trade in grain. Several million have died of hunger
in the Sahel of Africa as a result of famines during the 80's alone....
Since the Latin American Debt Crisis, Third World debtors have been paying
their creditors $30 billion more each year than they have received in new
aid lending. In the same period, the food availability to the poor in the
third world has fallen by 30%.

It is not just a time to rethink or debate the power structures that
maintain such injustices. It is time to act to change them.

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