Swedish activists in new incineration protest

Greenpeace occupies waste incinerator chimney to protest at increasing capacity

Greenpeace Sweden has staged a new protest in a campaign against increasing use of incineration to dispose of municipal waste. Activists blocked the chimney of an incinerator at Umeå, in the north-east of the country, for six days. Shortly after six of them were arrested, the group yesterday issued a list of 32 municipalities which it said were planning to increase waste incineration and called on the government to immediately take steps to prevent further construction.

The development marks the latest stage in Greenpeace's long-running war against waste incineration. Within the last six months, the group's Swedish branch has claimed that existing incinerators were producing ash with far higher dioxin levels than admitted by the government (ENDS Daily 6 December 1999) and alleged that most plants would fail to meet new EU air emissions limits on waste incinerators (ENDS Daily 16 March).

Official forecasts are that Swedish waste incineration will grow in importance, under pressure from bans on landfilling of combustible waste from 2002 and of organic waste from 2005.

Greenpeace says the trend is environmentally unacceptable. "Incineration of waste is not in accordance with a sustainable society and must be reduced, not increased," said campaigner Emma Öberg. The group claims that, as well as releasing hazardous substances, incineration discourages recycling and cleaner energy, while "creating a society dependent on waste".

In its latest report, Greenpeace calls on the government to impose an incineration tax, saying that Sweden is the only country in the Nordic region not to have one. Imports of waste from Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and Finland have increased at the same time, it adds.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace Sweden, tel: +46 8 57 02 70 74.

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