Chinese Environmental Groups Question CDM Application
Asia is seeing a rise in incinerator proposals with China leading the number of projects applying for funding under the Clean Development Mechanism. Proponents peddle projects as climate-friendly and sources of renewable energy, which environmental groups in China contest.
With the help of GAIA and CDM Watch, eight environmental groups led by the Wuhu Ecology Center and Friends of Nature submitted comments on the Linjiang Erqi and West Qinhuangdao Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) incineration projects during the CDM project validation process through the Global Stakeholder Consultation. Similarly, GAIA submitted feedback on the Jiangsu Kunshan and the Chengdu Jiujiang Municipal Solid Waste Incineration Project in January 2011.
The groups raised concerns about the Project Design Document (PDD) of the Linjiang Erqi and West Qinhuangdao Incinerator projects, citing "foreseeable environmental and health impacts to the ecosystem and communities surrounding the plant, illegal site selection, falsification of Environmental Impact Assessment, and questionable qualifications of the project developer."
Zhang Boju of Friends of Nature refuted the statement in the PDD that more ninety percent of the residents in the area approved the construction of the West Qinhuangdao MSW incineration project, when in fact 1,500 people and 37 village committee members filed a petition and a legal case against the it. Given that the waste generated in China is about 50% compostable (50.19 % moisture content), the groups argue that incineration is not the best technology to address the country's waste problem. This highlights the failure of the project proponents to make a good faith effort to provide alternative scenarios, since the most environmental and cost-effective options for waste management systems suitable to China's condition were blatantly ignored.
The absence of an effective monitoring mechanism for toxic emissions like dioxins, furans, mercury, and other heavy metals released through waste-incineration may further aggravate environmental pollution in the country, they added.
Incinerators demand a constant supply of materials with high calorific value like paper and plastics. Burning these recyclable materials in waste-to-energy facilities competes with waste segregation and recycling initiatives in the different communities and cities around the country. This would potentially impact "over 1 million people working in the recycling and waste picking sector, a very important component of the urban waste disposal industry," according to the comments submitted by Friends of Nature. Studies show that waste reduction, source-segregation, composting and recycling outweigh the benefit of burning waste to create energy, both in terms of greenhouse gas reduction and environmental health.
The groups that signed the comments were: Green-An Hui Environmental Development Center, Greenovation Hub, Insitute of Environment and Development, Green Beagle, Fujian Green Home Environment-Friendly Center, Green Hunan, Green Hangzhou, Xiamen Greencross Association, Friends of Nature and Wuhu Ecology Center. These groups are actively involved in the China Waste Information Network coordinated by the Wuhu Ecology Center and GAIA.