An international network of environmental, health, advocacy and anti-poverty groups organized the first global month of action against dirty energy from October 11 to November 11, 2013. Called Reclaim Power, the month of action included a November 8th day of action against something not traditionally seen as a form of dirty energy – burning waste, otherwise known as incineration.
“The November 8th day of action was an incredible success in uniting communities fighting so-called waste to energy projects across the globe, and in raising awareness among people of conscience that burning waste burns our future, while failing to address the real need for zero waste and clean energy solutions,” says Mariel Vilella, Climate Campaign Director for The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).
The Day of Action included an unprecedented Global resolution against incineration as dirty energy, signed by 325 organizations from 60 countries as well as more than 25 actions in 13 countries across 6 different continents. The actions varied in size, tactics and focus but were all united by a common purpose:
- Highlighting incineration -- the industrial burning of waste -- as dirty, unsustainable, unjust, and as carbon-intensive as burning any other fossil fuel that harms people and pollutes the climate.
- Demonstrating the fact that energy generated from incinerators is negligible and non-renewable.
- Promoting the real solution of zero waste which creates jobs, saves money, and is an essential strategy to combat climate change, and which is already being successfully implemented in cities around the world.
In the Philippines, despite concerns over the tragic consequences of Super Typhoon Yolanda, Philippine ZW activists persevered and conducted 2 actions. The first was a collective action collage that spells out: “Waste to Energy is Dirty Energy! Don't Burn our Future!” Photos of EcoWaste staff and members holding up phrases/words in front of a cement kiln in Bulacan province, the Payatas landfill and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources were taken to complete the sentence Waste to Energy is Dirty Energy! Photos of members/staff were again taken in front of national landmarks in Cebu City, Davao City and Manila to complete "Don't Burn our Future!" with Grade 1 children from the Kamuing Elementary school holding up the word "future".
In a separate action, CYCAD (Cycling Advocates) held their 4th annual caravan to promote the use of bikes as a non-polluting, low-impact, alternative mode of transport, to call for safer streets for bikers and to petition local governments to create and support bike-friendly streets. The caravan moves through the 17 cities/municipalities of Metro Manila. This year, about 250 bikers participated in the caravan carrying “don’t burn our future” flags and posters, linking biking to waste, pollution and dirty energy reduction.
“While the supposed benefits of waste-to-energy technologies may appear too good to pass up, the process of burning wastes is unsustainable and polluting as useful materials that can still be reused, recycled or composted are burned to produce energy,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“Studies show that burning recyclable or reusable resources initiates a climate-changing cycle of new resources drawn out of the Earth, processed in factories, shipped and used around the world, and then wasted in incinerators and landfills,” she added.
“National laws mandating proper waste management in the country are already in place. The Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act prohibit burning of waste, and the latter also sets a systematic, comprehensive and ecological waste management scheme that will lead to a Zero Waste Philippines,” stated Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator of the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Cebu City.
“Incineration or waste burning contradicts every effort to properly implement the ecological waste management law that guarantees materials conservation,” Atty. Ramos emphasized.
For her part, Betty Cabazares, Executive Director of Kinaiyahan Foundation in Davao City, added that such technologies “directly competes with smaller industries and communities engaged in recycling, composting and collecting of discards and other usable materials, and undermines commendable efforts by some local government units to promote environmental stewardship among its citizens.”
GAIA and EcoWaste Coalition have long been supporting communities who have been fighting the adverse health and environmental effects of incinerators across the globe. The latest industry attempt to greenwash incineration as so-called “clean and renewable waste to energy” has reinvigorated the international fight against incineration and for zero waste alternatives.
The Global “Don’t Burn our Future Resolution” launched as part of this day of action points to the way forward for the movement: 325 organizations in 60 countries resolved to include waste incineration in education efforts against dirty energy, work to ban incineration from governments’ renewable energy portfolio and/or subsidy programs, work to get governments to divest from all types of incinerators, and support Zero Waste communities and resilient local economies as the truly clean and renewable way of the future.