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Several Uruguayan and international social organizations are organizing a seminar called “Urban solid waste management: a critical look on alternatives” on Thursday. National and international guests will analyse alternatives proposed by the social movements and a controversial government proposal of garbage incineration.
The event is organized by RAPAL Uruguay, the workers’ central PIT-CNT, REDES-Friends of the Earth Uruguay, the Union of Solid Waste Classifiers (UCRUS), the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the International Labour Foundation for Sustainable Development (Sustain Labour).
The event will take place at the School of Social Sciences of the University of the Republic. It will be open to the public. The aim is also to share some guidelines and strategies to make responsible, sustainable and inclusive decisions on waste management.
In a press release issued yesterday, environmental organization REDES-Friends of the Earth Uruguay, said the official proposal of “incinerating waste full of toxics, instead of reducing, classifying and recycling” is regrettable.
The mayor of Montevideo, Ana Olivera, informed earlier this year that the alternative for treating waste in the city was the installation of an incinerator and power generation plant.
Olivera told the press that the A2A group, a public-private company of Brescia, Italy, offered to invest 500 million USD to build a new landfill in exchange for the commercialization of power produced at the waste incinerator.
In February, the mayor, together with colleagues from other departments went to Brescia to watch the operation of A2A. They were invited by the local municipality to provide information and to watch how the company worked.
On June 5, 2011, on the World Environment Day, the outcomes of a seminar called “Solid Waste Management” were published. The event was called by the Labour Health and Environment Secretariat of the PIT-CNT. Representatives of state and municipal bodies participated, as well as the University of the Republic (UdelaR), the co-operative movement and environmental and social organizations.
The proposals that came out of the seminar were presented to the authorities of the Municipality of Montevideo, the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment and the University on the second half of 2011 and the first half of 2012. They compiled studies and initiatives made some time ago, which are widely recognized as useful for the sustainable management of waste.
The documents recommend environmental protection, the promotion of classification of waste, integration of the people who live on recycling. They also propose changes in the current waste treatment model. However, in reality the local and national authorities have continued to “mix and bury” waste. And they are now proposing to incinerate it.
REDES-FoE explains different waste incineration experiences show that in the places where this is carried out, waste generation, instead of its reduction is promoted. For technical reasons, it is inefficient and expensive that incinerators work at full capacity, therefore, in many cases there is a constant interest or flow of waste, while recycling or composting does not increase, says the environmental organization. “Building an incinerator implies jeopardizing 20 to 30 years of recycling and waste recovery policies”.
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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