After reviewing the argument for and against incineration I would like to present my final resume. As a personal conclusion, I understand that incineration facilities are necessary when waste is not recycled or can’t be separated. It’s true that they have evolved a lot and that facilities nowadays are much safer than those of previous times, but there are still some serious potential risks and uncertainties that indicate that their general implementation is not recommended.

The incineration model is not the solution to waste treatment. Incinerators should be reserved for treating waste that can no longer be recycled or where separation costs are excessively high and, as a precaution, placed in unpopulated areas. Thus, incinerators would be the last resort, although they are better than landfills.

Waste incineration is not the solution for garbage treatment

Incinerators occupy the penultimate position in the waste management hierarchy. First, you should reduce; if that’s not possible then you should reuse; and if you can’t reuse it either, you should recycle it; and if nothing else can be done, then yes, send it to for incineration. Landfill should be the last option, but before that, you have incineration (as some developed Europeans countries do). It’s important to insist that incineration is the penultimate of the possibilities and not the priority or general model for massive waste incineration. No. First, you should recover the waste materials as much as possible internally- in ecoparks-, and if this is impossible, recover their energy. From the energy point of view, it’s better to recycle than to incinerate.

From the energy point of view, it’s better to recycle than to incinerate.

Want to know more?

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

Foto: Kyle Wang en Flickr

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