Environmental and Social Justice Groups Rally for Ban on Waste Incineration in the UK

Environmental and social justice groups, writes Simon Pearson, unite to demand a ban on waste incineration in the UK, presenting a 10-point action plan aimed at protecting both the environment and marginalised communities.


In an effort to phase out waste incineration and promote a low-carbon circular economy, a coalition of environmental and social justice groups, including Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), and XR Zero Waste, has submitted a 10-point action plan to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. This call to action comes amidst sustained Earth Day demonstrations, as the coalition seeks urgent policy changes to protect both the environment and marginalised communities disproportionately affected by incineration plants.

A major concern for the coalition is social justice, as data reveals that waste incinerators are three times more likely to be located in deprived areas, disproportionately affecting poorer communities and those with higher racial and ethnic diversity. The action plan insists on better pollution monitoring and stricter enforcement in order to ensure cleaner air for all citizens.

“The UK is already suffering from too many waste incinerators releasing CO2 that is worsening climate change and pollutants that are harming our air quality.”

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN, emphasises the need for immediate government intervention, stating that the UK cannot burn its way out of overconsumption. To prevent further environmental and public health damage, the coalition has called for a moratorium on new incineration schemes and a comprehensive National Incineration Exit Strategy.

“Preventing the construction and operation of even more incinerators is not a big ask. It is the very least the government can do to help us along the journey to zero waste and the circular economy.”

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN

The 10-point action plan also outlines additional demands, such as the halting of waste plastic incineration and export through radical plastic reduction, the inclusion of incineration in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme, and the introduction of an incineration tax. Furthermore, it calls for a ban on new planning permissions and permits for waste incinerators, revoking permits for yet-to-be-commissioned incinerators, and mandatory audits of incinerator feedstock.

Overall, the coalition hopes that these measures will help the UK make significant strides towards a more sustainable, circular economy while also addressing the social injustices linked to waste incineration.

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Simon Pearson is on the Editorial Board of the Anti*Capitalist Resistance and is a Midlands-based political activist.

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