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Sign our Position Statement

Add your name to this statement if you agree with us and believe that incinerators should be phased out and new incinerator proposals prohibited.

We are Opposed to Incineration

Domestic and international incinerator vendors are aggressively promoting their “energy-from-waste” incinerator technology to Canadian municipalities as a way to manage municipal solid waste. Durham Region (Southern Ontario), Metro Vancouver, City of Ottawa, Port Hope (Ontario) and Red Deer (Alberta) are currently considering either mass-burn or gasification projects.

A comprehensive cancer prevention strategy means reducing exposure to carcinogenic substances at every opportunity. Dioxin is recognized as a Class 1 carcinogen1 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and Health Canada states that the large scale burning of municipal and medical waste is the biggest source of dioxin generation in Canada.2

Even the most technologically advanced incinerators, including new pyrolysis and gasification incinerators, release dioxins and other hazardous pollutants in the form of air emissions, incinerator ash and water scrubber effluents. The links between incineration and cancer are becoming clearer. Studies in the United Kingdom found an increased risk of childhood cancer, childhood leukemia, and solid tumors of all kinds among children living near incinerators. Studies in France, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Sweden found that people living near incinerators had a cluster of soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; a two-fold cancer risk; increases in laryngeal cancer; increases in lung cancer or lung cancer mortality; and generally higher risks of all cancers but specifically of stomach, colorectal, liver, and lung cancer. Incinerator workers in Italy, the U.S., and Sweden had significantly higher gastric cancer mortality, a high prevalence of hypertension and excessive deaths from lung cancer and heart disease.3,4

In addition to health concerns, incinerators are a disincentive to resource conservation and waste reduction, as they require stipulated volumes of waste over long periods of time. Far more energy could be saved, with the attendant reduction in pollution and health impacts, through materials re-use, recycling and composting.5

Burning garbage is not renewable energy production. Energy-from-waste (EFW) incinerators should not be permitted to compete unfairly with truly renewable sources of energy. When compared with energy producing technologies used in Ontario, incineration contributes the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced.5

It is imperative municipalities not be permitted to use the federal gas tax rebate or other such public funds towards the costs of new or existing incinerators.6

THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, urge federal, provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments to phase out all current incinerators and prohibit future proposals. We call on Canada to adopt a healthy and sustainable resource management policy for the 21st century that prioritizes waste reduction and materials reuse through comprehensive recycling, composting and product take-back programs for discards.

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CLICK HERE to see a list of signatories.

  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer
  2. Health Canada / Healthy Living, Dioxins and Furans: It’s Your Health
  3. Best Environmental Practices and Alternative Technologies for Medical Waste Management, Emmanuel, Jorge PhD. Health Care Without Harm, June 2007, 8th Int’l Waste Management Congress and Exhibition
  4. Incineration and Human Health. State of Knowledge of the Impacts of Waste Incinerators on Human Health, Allsopp, M. Costner, P. and Johnston, P.
  5. The Pembina Institute, Incineration Fact Sheets
  6. Infrastructure Canada, Building Canada Plan Backgrounder