Incineration: The problems

The main arguments against incinerators focus mainly on the drawbacks implied for the environment and people. These drawbacks are caused by the different types of waste generated in an incinerator: slag, ashes, and emissions (dioxins).

One of the negative aspects of the incineration facilities that caught my attention and which has been written the about most are the dioxins. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.[1] The orange agent used by the United States in Vietnam had a high content of dioxins.

Burning waste emits carcinogenic dioxins and furans 

Regarding In terms of energy production, incinerators generate electricity but emit 33% more greenhouse gases than thermal power facilities that produce electricity from gas.[3]

Although this has already been mentioned previously, it should be pointed highlighted that the potential for saving energy[4] from municipal waste is higher through its recycling than through the energy extracted from said waste (this is important).

From an energy point of view, recycling is better than incineration

Nor should we forget that the waste incineration, like landfills, has associated fees or taxes, so meaning that everything that is incinerated is around 20% more expensive[5] for citizenship, compared to recycling (see chapter 10). What’s more, these rates do not include all of the environmental[6] costs caused by incineration.

It should also be noted that the waste incineration in cement corporations is carried out by private companies that, due to their very nature as companies, they prioritize economic issue matter’s over and to the impact generated by their activity on the environment and people.


Want to know more?

 The book Stop garbage. The truth about recycling, Alex Pascual, February 2019

► Interview with Dr. Eduard Rodríguez Farré at the Vilafranca del Penedès Regional Hospital (CAT)

 ► Award-winning documentary TRASHED, starring Jeremy Irons. Very instructive, easy to understand, with good images, good content and good technical details (ENG)

► VI State meeting against the incineration of waste in cement factories. Villafranca del Penedés 2015 (CAST and CAT)

► “Purifying fire?”El Escarabajo Vverde Program, RTVE, (CAST)

►On the case “Txingudi incinerator (Basque Country)” (CAST)

► The reality of living near an incinerator, RTVE (CAST)

Effects on health and the environment of dioxins and furans, Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment,15634,11,2007.html

Several studies on the non-impact of incineration on the environment and humans, by AEVERSU (Spanish Association for the Energy Recovery of RSU) (CAST)

“The activity of urban waste incineration does not imply an additional risk for the surrounding population.”Universitat Rovira i Virgili (CAT)

►Incineración and health. Osasuna eta errausketa. April 2016. Legazpi (CAST)


[1]. “Dioxins and their effects on human health,”” WHO(World Health Organization), May 2014

[3]. “”A Changing Climate for Energy from waste, for friends of earth,” Dominic Hogg report for the well-known consultancy Eumonia

[4]. “Incineration is not the solution” Greenpeace Spain,

[5]. “The incineration of waste in figures. Socio-economic analysis of the incineration of municipal waste in Spain,” Greenpeace, July 2010             

[6]. Ibidem (same as previous footnote)

4 thoughts on “Incineration: The problems”

  1. Pingback: Waste incineration – Stop Garbage

  2. Pingback: Recycling is the solution – Stop Garbage

  3. Pingback: Incineration: The conclusion – Stop Garbage

  4. Pingback: Incineration: PRO arguments – Stop Garbage

Leave a Reply