Action Alert! On Thursday, June 30, at 11:30am EST, the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will hold a virtual hearing to discuss the CLEAN Future Act, legislation aimed at cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050. Waste reduction is a major aspect of the CLEAN Future Act’s comprehensive set of carbon-cutting policies, and recycling is a major focus. While the legislation does have some good points, unfortunately, it includes several problematic provisions. Along with our allies at Break Free From Plastic and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), we’re especially concerned about the CLEAN Future Act classifying waste incineration as a form of low-carbon energy—effectively undermining plastic and other waste-reduction measures, in addition to sabotaging clean energy goals.
Waste incineration, or “waste-to-energy” as it is often called by industry, is neither a clean nor a renewable energy source. As GAIA has revealed, incineration produces more greenhouse emissions than any other kind of energy production, including burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. Incinerators are also disproportionately located in BIPOC, rural, and low-income areas, directly exposing vulnerable communities to the toxic chemicals emitted by burning plastic and other waste. Last year, we at Plastic Pollution Coalition joined over 100 groups calling for removal of incineration from the CLEAN Future Act.
Ironically, the bill contradicts itself in several ways. First, it makes what seems like a serious commitment to addressing and correcting environmental injustice. Additionally, the CLEAN Future Act makes clear that waste incineration and other forms of plastic burning (called “chemical recycling” by the plastic and petrochemical industries) are not recycling. It also incentivizes reducing waste at the source through product redesign and redevelopment. Unless changes are made to this bill, these positive aspects will be undermined by the waste-to-energy provisions, which would only continue to harm frontline communities, emit more greenhouse gases and pollutants, and perpetuate the creation of more plastic and other waste.
Your voice matters! We’re asking our friends, allies, and supporters to call your representatives today, Wednesday, June 29,and tell them to eliminate incineration from the CLEAN Future Act. We need to stop greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution at the source, and protect our most vulnerable communities from further harm.
Below is a sample call script to use and share.
Hello, my name is _____. I’m calling to ask Representative _____ to remove waste incineration from the CLEAN Future Act. The inclusion of waste-to-energy as “clean electricity” undermines the very positive environmental justice protections in the bill and will set the country back from its goals of addressing the climate crisis. Waste-to-energy facilities are actually the dirtiest source of energy production on the grid today, emitting almost twice as much carbon dioxide as coal, oil, and gas. 79% of waste-to-energy facilities are located in environmental justice communities, adding to the burden of air pollution from particulate matter, dioxins, lead, mercury, and other toxins that threaten their health and well-being. Please don’t jeopardize a clean future for the country by propping up dirty energy!