See Watch This! #3, October 2012

By Mariel Vilella – GAIA’s Climate Policy Campaigner

We have some good news to share! After intense campaigning during the last two years by (GAIA) and the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has finally pulled back support to projects that could decrease recycling rates in the Global South.

As it can be read in the eligibility criteria of the recently launched methodology ACM0022 for ‘alternative waste treatments’: any project seeking CDM’s approval through this methodology will have to demonstrate that it does not negatively impact recycling rates.

This new rule for CDM projects recognizes one of the strongest claims made by grassroots recyclers over the last years: CDM-backed landfill gas systems and incinerators compete with them to access and control municipal solid waste streams to ultimately bury or burn recyclable/compostable materials. This issue not only resulted in the displacement of waste pickers’ livelihoods but also increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as most of the previous recycling was effectively prevented.

The direct implication of this new rule is that project developers seeking CDM’s support will have to provide evidence of no harm to recycling when putting forward a proposal for an incinerator, a landfill gas system or a Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) plant.

However, how should project developers do so? Will they visit the grassroots recyclers’ cooperatives on the ground and take notes on their recycling rates? How will they manage to argue that an incinerator or a landfill gas system can actually avoid damage to recycling? Not to doubt project developers’ capacity to distort reality, but they have systematically ignored the informal recycling sector so it can be assumed that some further regulation and follow-up will be needed to make them compliant. Essentially, it is fundamental to organize defend waste pickers rights on the grassroots level, so be aware that any project impacting recycling can now be reported to be out of the game!

More information about waste projects in the CDM:

The The European Union’s Double Standards on Waste and Climate Policy report reveals serious flaws in CDM-backed Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) projects. See report here:

Also, the CDM Case Studies: The Clean Development Mechanism in Solid Waste Management presents four case studies that show how landfills and incinerators increase GHG emissions, increase toxic emissions, reduce recycling and displace informal-sector recyclers who offer better alternatives. See cases here:

GAIA and the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers have extensively engaged in campaigning actions over the last three years, involving public interventions, cyber actions, and policy revisions, amongst others. See info here:

GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) is a worldwide alliance of more than 600 grassroots groups, non-governmental organisations, and individuals in over 93 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration.


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