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Incineration and Energy-from-Waste

TEA has opposed waste incineration for many years. Burning or destroying resources instead of recycling, reusing or composting them wastes energy, releases harmful greenhouse gas emissions and other toxins into our air and water.

Incineration, ‘energy-from-waste’, 'recovery' of energy, gasification, pyrolosis, plasmification or any other ‘thermal treatment’ of waste isn’t good for the environment:

  • Burning waste creates a range of toxic emissions, including dioxins, and ash during combustion; we can’t safely predict the toxins released because every load of garbage is different. Dioxins are extremely harmful, even at very small levels - the Canadian Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that there is no safe level of dioxin exposure for humans.

'Energy' from waste

  • Burning waste to create energy is not renewable or green energy. It is as inefficient and dirty as burning coal - something Ontario has phased out to protect air quality.

  • Creating energy from waste relies on burning material with a high energy value: dried organics and plastics. However, these are the materials we can, and should, be composting or recycling.

  • The energy we can conserve by recycling something is far greater than the energy we can get from burning it.

Incineration competes with recycling and diversion 

  • Incineration is expensive! Spending millions of dollars on an incinerator means less money available for investing in new recycling technology, more composters, better education for high rise buildings or better litter clean up.

  • Signing a contract with a private incinerator operator also ties the city into a commitment to keep generating waste, with penalties if waste levels go down!

  • Incinerators still require landfills for the ash generated. Incinerators are not an alternative to landfills, but a 'pre-treatment' option for landfills

Incinerators destroy materials that should be recycled or repurposed

  • Toronto residents are putting recyclable, compostable and hazardous material in the garbage - 70%-86% of what's in the garbage bag doesn't belong there. We need to focus getting that waste out of the garbage, not burning it.

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