Don´t Panic

It Is Fake News

Dipl.-Ing.(TU) Werner P. Bauer

Just a few years ago, Fake News was easily recognizable. The statements were obviously argued outside the mainstream and had, at least for most of the population, something absurd or bizarre. The followers of this news belonged to certain political or social groups. Referring to scientific findings in a discussion with these groups was not really helpful. Nevertheless, one could find one's way around. 

The fact that even well-founded studies on man-made climate change (I refer here to the IPCC's Assessment Reports) are still rejected by some social groups would be acceptable for me in view of the overwhelming majority of scientific studies. What is not acceptable, however, is financially motivated attacks on science by companies that want to hold on to climate-damaging products. Attacks of this kind are predominantly presented in the form of a journalistic article. The facts mentioned seem to be deliberately invented or falsified for political or economic gain. This is called Fake News. 

Fake News may seem surreal – still it is dangerous, and it has arrived in the waste economy. 

Fake News can often be recognized by the choice of words. For example, when people talk about "trash incinerators" or when "zero waste" is supposed to solve all problems. When Fake News is transported by ecological groups, it is difficult to distinguish between conscious false news and unconscious misinformation. I am referring to the misinformation of those who have grown up with the discussion that waste incinerators emit dioxin and furans. However, they have not been aware of the development of waste gas purification and find their ideologically charged view confirmed by false information. 

That this is always difficult for non-experts of waste management to distinguish is shown by the appeal of the group called "Energy Justice Network" in the USA of 4 October 2022. With considerable misinformation they are trying to achieve a change in the policy of the American Environmental Authority EPA. In a very distinctive way "Energy Justice Network” demands "Stop the promotion of burning trash as renewable energy or that trash incineration (and landfilling ash) is preferable to direct use of landfills.” This is beyond any scientific knowledge about emissions from landfills. 

And yet it is understandable that the appeal is gaining support, because the first demand is: "Bring all incinerators up to modern standards, including modern emissions limits and continuous emissions monitoring for all regulated pollutants for which permit limits are set (toxic metals, dioxins, particulate matter, acid gases, etc.).” I would immediately agree with this demand, which is very important.

We - the protagonists of sustainable waste management - must remain attentive and argue in a differentiated manner. In every sector, there are facilities that are not state of the art. We must be as open-minded towards groups that complain about this and demand the implementation of modern cleaning technologies,  just as we must strictly reject false claims. 

Landfills of untreated waste are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. Overcoming this technology requires hundreds of intermediate technical steps, each of which we must discuss openly. First and foremost, there must be a clear view of the costs that a landfill will incur at the end of its life. These financial expenses must be included in the fee and secured as a provision. Those who calculate correctly will no longer claim that landfills are cheap. See here the case study "Landfill ‘Am Brenten’”.

We should welcome zero waste groups but at the same time point out that the sum of products in a modern world cannot simply be avoided - at least not by most of the population. Waste prevention is rightly at the top of the waste hierarchy.

The more vulnerable technologies are, the more likely they areto be at risk of Fake News, no matter how absurd.

Werner Bauer
Vice President GWC


As founder of WtERT, I recommend to our members around the world to join in the discussion of issues relating to Sustainable Waste Management. The web is the only medium I know that provides for interactive debate of such issues, Thank you, Werner and Hedwig!
28.10.2022 13:26:31

Good morning to WTERT,
very good statement!
Greetings from Brussels
26.10.2022 16:10:20

Hello Werner,
Good statement -Focus Fake News
In short: Mankind can only exist in the long term with a circular economy. Landfilling means the collapse of our economic system in the long term. Only a circular economy is sustainable. Thermal waste treatment with advanced flue gas cleaning and residue processing is part of a circular economy to optimize (maximize) the material recycling of waste.
Please read our IeRM Official Statement opposing changing the US Waste Management Hierarchy in:
26.10.2022 14:17:37

Dear Werner, thank you for your October newsletter. I have also seen the Energy Network Justice letter to USEPA and it is truly outrageous. It repeats the "environmental justice" and "asthma attacks" we heard from a speaker at WtERT-US conference of October 13-14. There are about 500 U.S. municipalities served by WTEpower plants, including one in my hometown Sandwich, Massachusetts and I have not heard of a single complaint about asthma or other health effects of WTE plants. Yesterday, I saw a Detroit News report about a landfill at Northfield, Michigan where "thousands of complaints" about odors had been submitted to the local government by residents. There are 1135 operating landfills in the U.S. and 90% of the post-recycling wastes are landfilled.
26.10.2022 03:04:55

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