The report details the investigation of pollution limit breaches at the following five incineration facilities:
- Lafarge Montcada I Reixac cement plant in Barcelona, Spain
- Lafarge cement plant in Trbovlje, Slovenia
- Ivry waste incinerator in Paris, France
- Dargavel waste incinerator in Scotland, United Kingdom
- Incinerators of Bavaria, Germany
According to the report, emission limits of hazardous air pollutants as designated by the EU Air Quality Directives (AQDs) are significantly higher at these locations than safety limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, the reliance on the principle for best available techniques (BAT) favors far higher emission limits than are deemed environmentally and epidemiologically safe by the WHO. Furthermore, the monitoring of air pollution in waste incineration activities are handled by the same facilities, and are therefore not subject to independent monitoring practices.
There is a long history of popular opposition to the Lafarge Montcada I Reixac cement plant. In 2006, a petition opposing a plan to use sludge, bone and meat meal, and plastics as fuel gained 6,000 signatures. Although a permit was eventually granted in 2008, it continues to face legal and procedural challenges to this day.
The investigation also found that incinerators in Scotland and Bavaria have exceeded legally defined emissions limits and are potentially hazardous to human health and the environment, and the cement plant in Trbovlje, Slovenia, has documented complaints from local communities for toxic emissions, odors and lack of environmental permits.
The report adds further support for the call to end the incineration of waste and its subsequent negative impact on the climate and contribution to hazardous environmental pollution.
Zero Waste Europe has called for for the implementation of zero waste policies that prioritize waste prevention, reuse and recycling, including the redesign and implementation of improved extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, where producers are mandated to work to eliminate their product waste.
Photo credit: waste incineration plant via Shutterstock