Incineration: Why Not?
Far from a magical waste-vanishing solution, incinerators are fraught with complications.
Reducing our trash to ash disincentivizes us from recovering precious materials from discarded goods, encouraging throwaway culture, increasing producer reliance on virgin materials, and speeding up the process of resource depletion. All evidence of this unsustainable status quo is then burned, preventing us from being forced to confront the wasteful overconsumption this system perpetuates.
Furthermore, incinerators are known to disperse dioxins, a persistent organic pollutant and highly toxic carcinogen found to accumulate in animal fats (such as cow’s milk). Dioxins degrade both the environment and human health.
Last but not least, extensive greenwashing has led many to place their hopes in modern "waste-to-energy" facilities. In a bid to secure massive government subsidies, these incinerators-in-disguise are trying to advertise themselves as a new form of renewable green energy. But energy generation doesn't change the fact that when you burn resources, they have to be replaced, which wastes more energy and creates more global warming than can reasonably be justified.
There's a Better Way
Trying to decide what we should do with the billions of tons of waste our global society produces is a little like trying to stop a bathtub from overflowing by repetitively scooping the water out with a bucket. A much more efficient solution would start by turning off the tap. That is what makes the zero waste movement so vital to sustainable waste management.
To explore zero waste solutions, choose an avenue below.