Anti-Garbage Incineration Around the Globe, A Review

Date: 25 Apr 2018 | posted in: waste - anti-incineration, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

There has been only one new garbage incinerator built in the US since 1996, a plant in West Palm Beach, Fla. An estimated 300 proposed incinerators were defeated by citizen and small business coalitions in the US from the 1970s-1996. Since 1996 an estimated 150 additional proposed facilities have been rejected at the local level. In Frederick and Carroll Counties, Md., the grass roots efforts lasted 8 years. In Montgomery County, Md., the battle is entering its 25th year. Citizens in Saugus, Mass. are fighting to shut down a garbage incinerator ash dump that was supposed to be closed in 1996.

The pattern is the same throughout the world. People do not want garbage incinerators which pollute, need enormous amounts of capital and cap comprehensive job-intensive recycling, reuse and composting efforts. The staying power of anti incineration and pro Zero Waste campaigns prove this. In most cases a mobilized citizenry and small business sector and democratic institutions assure eventual victories over garbage incineration.

Here is an update of recent activities in the US and abroad.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) is among the award winners recognized by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation — Powering Campaign People.

It’s tough to be the little guy, especially when your opposition is big business. That’s why, for the past ten years, UKWIN has supported more than 150 grassroots anti-incineration campaigns to face up to formidable corporate power and a planning system skewed in favour of development.

Information is power. The waste incineration industry frequently employs specialist consultants whose resources, research and knowledge can stifle local opposition and baffle planning officers. Ultimately, this imbalance hampers the ability of communities to participate in environmental decision-making and receive environmental justice.

Many of those who oppose incineration are concerned local residents, not seasoned campaigners, and they have to quickly learn how to navigate the complicated planning system for the first time. UKWIN makes a unique contribution to social change by helping bridge the vast resource gap. They equip local campaigners with information and skills, enable them to share their experiences, and support communities to run effective local campaigns. UKWIN also works nationally to level the playing field and amplify the voices of local citizens.

Follow them on Twitter: @UKWIN_Network.


Update from Jane Bremmer, Zero Waste Australia (ZWOZ) Massive incinerator planned for New South Wales is defeated!

This was to be the world’s largest incinerator burning 1.3 million tonnes of waste a year. They tried to halve the project but still the New South Wales government’s EPA, Planning, Health and Environment agencies have rejected the project….with strong support from the Labour and Greens Party and an awesome community led campaign.

I hope this is the beginning of the end to all these incinerator projects in Australia and signals a major step towards sustainable zero waste policy. This decision could not have come at a better time while the global plastics pollution crisis gains mainstream attention and focus but risks promoting these dirty energy technologies in Australia and the Oceania region.

I feel this is a big win for all of us in Australia and I hope it resonates with other campaigners around the world too. Jane Brenner ZWOZ, Australia


Update from John Harder, aka the Dump Doctor of Hawaii.

The City of Honolulu (island of Oahu) has long been locked into a commitment to burn its waste.

In the late 1980’s they built a 2,000-ton per day RDF incinerator (H-Power) to deal with a growing population and extremely limited landfill capacity (an island of less than 600 sq mi with over 1,000,000 residents plus an average tourist population of roughly 100,000 per day).

More recently they rebuilt the aging facility and added a third another boiler/turbine unit which was a simple mass burn unit.

The operations are covered with a put or pay contract and with the commercial sector seeing direct bottom line benefits from recycling is requiring the City make up the difference each year.

Though they have implemented curbside Recycling, island wide they now find that the success of their recycling effort is costing them more than the benefits of diversion. Currently, a Plan Update, proposes to shut down curbside recycling and send everything to H-Power.

Keone Kealoha ( is attempting to work with a citizens advisory group to modify the proposal and convince the decision makers to take a more sustainable approach.

New York

Update from Seneca, NY, Will Ouweleen, co-founder of Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition ( discusses this latest development.

New bill would block proposed incinerator near Seneca Lake

By Capital Tonight Staff  |  April 9, 2018 @6:22 PM

State lawmakers are now getting involved in the fight to block construction of a garbage incinerator near Seneca Lake. In fact, the new bipartisan bill would remove all of these kinds of facilities from the Public Service Commission’s expedited siting process in order to give local officials more control. In this case, Circular Energy LLC had been seeking approval from the Town of Romulus to build the facility at the former Seneca Army Depot but faced strong local opposition and instead turned to the state. The local group Seneca Lake Guardian is lead the opposition. Will Ouweleen, co-founder of Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition discusses this latest development.


Charliene Lemoine, Waukesha County, WI, Environmental Action League ( reports on new pro incineration legislation in Wisconsin:

Legislation signed by Gov. Walker (Wisconsin) on 4/16/18 exempts pyrolysis and gasification facilities from being regulated as solid waste facilities. They are now defined as manufacturing facilities in 2017 WI Act 284 – 4/16/18:

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill exempts pyrolysis and gasification facilities from certain laws relating to solid waste facilities.

A solid waste facility is a facility for the treatment, storage, or disposal of solid waste. Under current law and rules promulgated by the Department of Natural Resources, no person may operate a solid waste facility without an operating license from DNR. In addition, most solid waste facilities must undergo a pre-construction or pre-expansion site inspection, obtain DNR approval of a plan of operation for the facility, comply with certain performance standards to avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts, and provide proof of financial responsibility for the closure of the facility and the post-closure, long-term care of the facility.

This bill exempts pyrolysis and gasification facilities from the definition under  current law of “solid waste facility.” The bill defines a pyrolysis facility as a facility  where post-use plastics are heated until decomposed and then converted into other materials such as liquid fuel. Under the bill, a gasification facility is a facility where post-use plastics and certain other materials are heated and ultimately converted  only into fuel or other chemical feedstock.

“Certain other Materials” is pretty broad and could mean just about anything.

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.