According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), 250 U.S. mayors have emerged victorious in their unanimous vote for a renewable plan that excludes energy derived from fossil fuels, municipal waste incineration, and medical waste as clean forms of energy. The decision came to fruition during the 85th annual meeting of the US conference of mayors with one of the main topics for discussion being the country’s commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
The renewal plan is a big step towards attaining 100% renewable energy from clean sources in all American cities. In fact, more than 25 US cities have already officially embraced ambitious renewable energy goals with six already meeting their targets to generate the entirety of their energy from clean and renewable sources.
Besides the bright renewable future that’s in store for many American cities, arguably the biggest takeaway from this momentous decision has to be the exclusion of municipal waste incineration as a form of clean energy. And as if that wasn’t sweet enough, the cherry on top is that the decision was reached despite the incinerator industry’s lobbying attempts to unhinge it.
“The incinerator industry is trying their hardest to keep their business afloat amongst a competitive field of energy providers that are cheaper and cleaner,” said Ahmina Maxey, GAIA’s US & Canada Regional Coordinator. “The truth is that this is a polluting industry, and Monday our nation’s mayors were astute enough to recognize that.”
American mayors aren’t the only ones getting the better of the incineration industry. On June 7 of this year, the European Parliament’s ENVI committee took their shot at the industry when they proposed a cease in financial support for the incineration of municipal solid waste.
“We have been calling for the elimination of financial support for energy extraction from mixed waste as this subverts one of the key cornerstones of the EU waste policy – the waste hierarchy” said Janek Vahk, Development and Policy Coordinator at Zero Waste Europe.
The hierarchy she is referring to is three tiered and circular economy friendly, following the order of prevention, reuse, and recycling.
As a result of too much financial backing countries like Denmark and Sweden have grown reliant on an ‘incineration first’ approach, which has led to a shift in priorities and stagnation with regards to their recycling targets.
Incineration not only poses a great danger to the environment, it also hinders the motivation for cities and countries to prioritize waste reduction measures as it’s a cheaper alternative to sorting. To boot, waste incinerators are costly and in order to justify the steep price tag, waste needs to be processed on a regular basis. This creates a domino effect as once you process waste on a regular basis, you become reliant on energy that it’s giving you, which means you’ll have to continue producing the same amount of waste, or more, to keep up with that demand.
The good news is that the world is waking up to the dangers of incineration and finally taking action to suppress it.
Until next time, The Sustainable Guy out.
Photo credit goes to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bloomgal/