Global Coalition Seeks Priority Funding For Recycling To Mitigate Climate Change

30 September 2009, Quezon City, Philippines; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Berkeley, USA; Brussels, Belgium*. An international coalition of public interest citizens’ groups has issued fresh calls for a new financial mechanism that will support recycling as priority climate change mitigation.

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), comprising of over 635 members from 88 countries, urged governments to formally back waste prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling and composting programs, otherwise known as Zero Waste, as priorities for mitigation funds. Informal sector recyclers, or wastepickers, already provide a valuable service in much of the world. The new climate deal should provide financial support to expand their efforts.

Groups around the world are joining to push for Zero Waste as a climate-friendly choice over waste disposal technologies such as landfills and incinerators, including “waste to energy”, plasma, gasification, and cement kiln incineration.

GAIA and GAIA member organizations made the common plea in conjunction with this year’s “Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration,” which coincides with the UN-sponsored talks on climate change that commenced 28 September 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand.

”Zero Waste has significant climate benefits by conserving resources, saving energy, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” said Manny Calonzo, GAIA's International Co-Coordinator. “At the same time, zero waste creates jobs and strengthens economies.”

A newly-released report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that 42 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by materials management policies. The report cites significant emissions cuts with waste reduction, recycling and improved product design.

The report “Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices,” estimates emissions savings of 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year by doubling the U.S. national recycling of construction and demolition discards.

Reducing U.S. product packaging by half could result in as much as 105 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

"As negotiators gather in Bangkok, we urge them not to be deceived into accepting landfill and incineration ‘waste-to-energy’ schemes as green energy or resource recovery initiatives,” said Neil Tangri, GAIA’s Waste and Climate Campaign Director.

Landfill gas-to-energy projects, refuse derived fuel projects and other “waste-to-energy” projects are incompatible with the far superior reusing, recycling and composting options since they directly waste materials that should be reused, recycled and composted, such as paper, plastics and organics.

Investments in landfill and “waste-to-energy” disposal technologies also threaten the informal recycling economy, particularly waste pickers.

Climate subsidies for waste disposal projects are already depriving people of recycling livelihoods.

“Instead of rushing to please big business, the new climate deal that we hope will be formalized in Copenhagen in December should create a new financing mechanism that will support the waste pickers’ efforts to protect and formalize their recycling activities,” Tangri added.

GAIA and GAIA member organizations expressed hope that governments will agree to their call to “stop trashing the climate,” support “Zero Waste for Zero Warming” and focus mitigation funds in the waste sector on recycling and resource recovery projects, excluding landfills and incinerators.

For more information, please contact:

GAIA Waste and Climate Campaign Director - Neil Tangri +66886485164 (currently in Thailand)

GAIA in Manila - Manny Calonzo or Gigie Cruz + 63 2 4364733

Spanish Speaking Countries - Cecilia Allen +54 11 45426429

GAIA in Europe - Joan Marc Simon +32486832576

GAIA in USA – Ananda Lee Tan +1 415 374 0615

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