Trash Incineration Factsheet EJN

Read about the negative effects of "waste-to-energy" plants on the environment and communities, including health and economic impacts.

Trash incineration is the most expensive and dirty way to produce energy, but the industry attempts to sell their operations as clean energy with phrases such as "resource recovery", "trash-to-steam", and "waste-to-energy". Incinerators produce more pollution than coal-fired power plants, and they emit dangerous pollutants such as NOx, CO2, CO, SO2 and toxic dioxins and metals.

Incinerators are located in places where surrounding communities are exposed to their pollutants, and they tend to be vulnerable communities such as those with people of low income and people of color. This makes incineration a public health and environmental justice issue.

Instead of using incineration, recycling and composting would significantly reduce energy and pollution by limiting new resource extraction. Recycling operations create massive amounts of jobs in comparison to incineration, and is therefore an economic benefit to communities. The only real solution is to take a zero waste approach to avoid incineration and landfilling.