Burning household trash, plastic, medical waste, industrial waste, sewage sludge, and any other kind of waste, releases dangerous toxics.
It also damages the climate and threatens public health. The worst part? These toxic impacts are inequitably distributed, with many incinerators located in Black and brown communities, low-income communities, and communities of limited English-speaking proficiency.
Why We Need to Stop Burning Trash
Every facility that burns trash is a threat to communities and the climate. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a 30-year-old trash incinerator or a deceptively named “advanced recycling” facility that boils plastic into dirty fuel, oil, or gas.
All trash, including plastic and sewage sludge, is full of toxics that can cause cancer, disrupt our biological and immune systems, and damage our organs. Plus, all this waste contains lots of carbon. So, by burning trash (or turning it into fuel), high-heat facilities release these toxics into communities. What’s more, they add that carbon to our atmosphere. To protect our communities, our health, and our climate, we need to pull the plug on every type of high-heat waste facility. We need to stop burning trash.
Just Zero’s Vision
Visualize this: A world where people aren’t forced to live, work, and go to school next to trash incinerators. Where lobbyists for oil and gas companies aren’t forcing plastic-to-fuel facilities on communities as a supposed “solution” to the plastic waste crisis. And where communities aren’t burdened with the toxic air pollution from nearby incinerators. Why? Because, in this world, these facilities no longer exist. Just Zero strives for this world. And we work every day to make it our reality.
Together, we can shut down old incinerators. And we can pass laws that prevent the next generation of plastic- and waste-burning facilities from ever being built. What’s more, we can put new programs and systems in place that prevent waste before it even starts. If we get rid of the unnecessary single-use plastics in our lives, if we pivot to reusable packaging, and if we compost and recycle what remains, then there is no waste to burn in the first place.
We’re coming at the trash-burning problem from all angles. When a community is faced with a proposal to build a dangerous high-heat waste facility, we want to be there to lend a hand. When the oil and gas industry spend big money to pass laws that make it easier to build “advanced recycling” (aka plastic-burning) facilities, we will push back. When an old trash incinerator finally shuts down, we will work with lawmakers and communities to put real Zero Waste reforms – like reuse systems, composting, bottle bills, and laws that hold plastic producers accountable – in place. That way, we can ensure the trash isn’t buried or burned somewhere else.
All along the way, we’ll advocate for laws that make it harder to build and operate these dangerous high-heat facilities across the U.S.