Fire and ashes

Stopping New Trash-Burning Facilities

The Issue

Burning trash – or turning trash into fuel and then burning that fuel – is expensive, toxic, climate-damaging, and inequitable. Every facility that uses high heat to burn garbage, whether it’s an incinerator, a “waste-to-energy” plant, or a deceptively-named “advanced recycler,” poses a risk to communities and the environment.

Just Zero is working to advance community-centered Zero Waste solutions that “starve” these dangerous facilities. How? By eliminating their fuel source: Trash. But that isn’t the only way to prevent new trash-burners from being built across the country. States, cities, and towns can – and should – implement laws and ordinances that prohibit the construction and operation of new high-heat waste facilities.

With the right laws in place, we can make burning trash a thing of the past.

The Model Bill

Trash-burning facilities usually need permits or licenses from state agencies before they can open their doors and start burning. This model legislation prohibits a state from issuing those permits and licenses. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Waste companies and fossil fuel giants greenwash trash burning facilities by describing their technology as “chemical recycling,” “advanced recycling,” or even “molecular recycling” – basically anything other than incineration. What’s more, the industry pushes legislation that exempts these trash burners from definitions and regulations that normally apply to waste facilities. So, to restrict trash burners, a law must carefully define high-heat waste facilities. That way, the industry can’t carve out loopholes for itself by rebranding – or greenwashing – its trash-burning technology.

That’s exactly what this model legislation does. Through a detailed set of definitions, the bill bans any facility that exposes any type of waste – including household trash, commercial waste, construction debris, recyclables, or plastic – to temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This includes technologies like incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, solvolysis, depolymerization, and anything branded as “chemical recycling,” “advanced recycling,” or “molecular recycling.”

Progressing Toward a Zero Waste Future

Banning all forms of trash-burning facilities protects communities and the climate. It’s also an important step on the path to Zero Waste. When waste companies and fossil fuel giants lobby lawmakers to support false solutions like “waste to energy” and “advanced recycling,” they deliberately erode support for real Zero Waste solutions like clean composting, bottle bills, and well-designed producer responsibility for packaging. A ban on these deceptively named, toxic, and climate-damaging facilities allows lawmakers and residents to focus on real solutions. Download our model bill today and contact your state legislators about introducing legislation to prohibit the construction and operation of new trash-burning facilities.

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