Starving the Incinerators

Many of the “waste to energy” incineration plants in the U.S. are reaching their lifespan of 30 years. While this industry is in decline, frontline and fenceline communities bearing the brunt of toxic pollution continue to face an uphill battle against proposals for expansion and other green-washed waste management solutions. Photo by Ronedya / AdobeStock.

  • Starving the Incinerators

Garbage “waste-to-energy” incineration has long been sold to the public as a technologically-advanced solution to the waste crisis and a source of renewable energy. In reality, incineration poses significant environmental, human health, and climate risks, while disproportionately impacting communities of color and low-income communities that already face high pollution burdens. Anti-incineration advocates also point to the high costs needed to keep this declining industry afloat in the U.S., siphoning public money away from more just and sustainable waste management solutions.

This week on Terra Verde, host and producer Hannah Wilton invites Denaya Shorter, Senior Director for the US and Canada Region of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), to discuss the anti-incineration movement and zero waste alternatives to burning. Denaya sheds light on the industry’s connections to the plastic and petrochemical complex, the concept of “waste colonialism,” zero waste as a strategy rooted in justice, and the recent closure of California’s second to last waste incinerator, representing a major win for grassroots community activists and environmental groups.

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