Staff Reporter

Oppose use of incinerators which convert waste to energy

Incinerators spew toxins, pollute environs

Rag pickers will be rendered jobless

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Grassroots community leaders and activists, who are working on sustainable waste solutions, have pledged their support to Zero Waste over ‘waste to energy’ (WTE) incinerators.

Incineration not only threatens public health and environment but also deprives rag pickers of their livelihood, according to activists and community leaders who attended a two-day meeting organised by the NGO, Thanal, and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

The participants, from 11 States across the country, called for an end to the spate of WTE projects.

“These projects will render waste pickers and similar workers across the country jobless. Why feed waste into polluting waste burners when the same can be reused and recycled, providing needy families with income, while conserving energy,” asked Jayakumar of Thanal.

Investment in WTE projects will rob rag pickers of recyclables through which they make ends meet. “Support for incineration, including burning of refuse-derived fuels, is misguided,” said Alan Watson from the U.K. These technologies are extremely expensive, environmentally damaging and inappropriate for the waste generated in India, according to him.

Mr. Watson said the focus should be on technologies which recover wastes for reuse rather than those which generate toxic ashes and harm future generations. The participants supported people-oriented Zero Waste programmes that will reduce the volume of garbage being sent to landfills and incinerators. Zero Waste is an approach by which resources are utilised in such a way as to avoid waste generation. As much waste as possible is reused. (This concept was taken up in Kovalam to solve the problem of garbage disposal in the beach resort.)

“It’s a far superior approach compared to incinerating discards,” according to Gigie Cruz of the GAIA Secretariat. Apart from creating jobs, Zero Waste conserves resources and prevents the contamination of the environment with climate-warming greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other toxic releases, she said.