Learn More: The Chemistry of Waste Reduction: Incinerators at Work

Incineration of waste has been portrayed by many as a way to get rid of our trash and generate energy. The research shows that it is far from being the truth. Here are 9 good reasons to avoid burning waste. Municipal waste consists mainly of paper, glass and plastic. More than 90% of all materials that end up in landfills or in incineration plants could be recycled. Burning valuable materials for electricity encourages people to create more waste and discourages conservation efforts.

It is common for countries to encourage the burning of waste to have low rates of recycling as a consequence. Data on household garbage in Denmark shows this trend. Regions with high incineration levels recycle less than those in lower incineration areas.

Incinerators produce very little energy by wasting large quantities of materials. In contrast, composting and recycling can save 5 times as much energy than burning waste. The energy waste in the US due to not recycling aluminium and metal cans, paper and printed materials, plastic and glass is equivalent to that of 15 medium size power plants.

Incinerator firms often market “waste energy” (or “waste to power”) as a renewable energy source. However, unlike wind, sun or wave energy waste isn’t generated by renewable sources. The natural process is infinite. The resources used to make it are finite, such as forests, minerals, and fossil fuels. Subsidies used to support incineration can be invested better into energy-saving, environmentally friendly practices such as recycling or composting. Here are 4 reasons why recycling is better than combustion incinerator supplier.

The burning of waste is dangerous to both the citizens and the environment. Even the most sophisticated technologies can’t stop the pollution from entering the air, the soil and the water. The incinerators are among the major sources of carcinogenic pollution and dust particles, which can result in decreased lung function as well as irregular heartbeats or heart attacks. Burning trash is far from being climate-neutral. Incinerators emit significantly more CO2 than coal-fired plants, natural-gas-powered plants or oil-fired ones (per megawatt hour).

Denmark, the poster girl of Europe’s incineration industries, recently found out that its incinerators produced twice as much CO2 compared to what was originally estimated. The country missed its Kyoto Protocol reduction targets. Comparatively, according to a study from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, up to 42% of US emissions of greenhouse gases could be reduced by implementing Zero Waste strategies.

Incinerators can be the most expensive and inefficient way to handle waste. In addition, they are a major economic burden to host cities. Amagerbakke, Copenhagen’s infamous incinerator story is only one example. Incinerators are a major cause of municipal debt. Some municipalities are also trapped in long-term agreements that require them to deliver a minimum volume of waste to repay the investment costs for 20 to 30-year periods. For example, on the other side, in 2011, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania became the largest US town to declare bankruptcy because of the financial costs of upgrading the incinerator.

Compared to recycling, “waste-to-energy plants” offer relatively few positions. Recycling is the lifeblood of millions in the waste industry. The recycling industry creates between 10 and 20 times more jobs compared to incineration. US recycling provides more than 800,000. With a national average of less than 33%, this industry is responsible for over 800,000. In developing countries, such as the Philippines where incinerators can be built, they will eliminate jobs for informal waste workers like waste pickers. The green jobs that can be created by investing in recycling, reusing and composting are a great way to help informal workers.

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