A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 February 28, 1991


Well, this time, David did not slay Goliath, but he did leave him with a bloody nose. On Sunday, February 17, the citizens’ initiative to get a Better Garbage Concept into Bavarian law narrowly lost in a statewide referendum. Even though the citizens referendum did extremely well in the cities (it won in Munich, Nuremburg and Augsburg) and in towns like Kempten, which had ongoing problems with their incinerator, it lost overall statewide by a 51% to 44% margin. In essence, the referendum fell victim to the same party political machine which has dominated politics in Bavaria since World War II. In thousands of small towns and villages voters were persuaded by a variety of slick advertising tactics to vote for the government’s law. In effect, many people weren’t voting for the way they wanted garbage handled, as much as voting for the party: the CSU (Christian Social Union). The encouraging view from those opposed to incineration is that where both sides of the argument were given a fair hearing at public meetings, etc., the Better Garbage Concept won convincingly. This was particularly true of Munich, Bavaria’s largest city. Here, the citizens initiative won 66% to 34%. This is an extremely significant result, because Munich has one of Europe’s largest trash incinerators, and it is also the headquarters of Martin Gmbh, the German half of the USA’s largest trash incinerator builder: OGDEN MARTIN. While supporters of the Better Garbage Concept were extremely disappointed by the overall defeat, most reconciled themselves with the knowledge that it is going to be extremely difficult for the incinerator industry to build any new incinerators in Bavaria, and with the organizers meeting representatives from many other German states in Bonn the weekend of Feb 23-24, the writing is well and truly on the wall for the trash incineration industry nationwide. In short, citizens may have lost the moment, but they haven’t lost the movement, and what a movement it is turning out to be!


The mainstream of the German environmental movement is now opposed to trash incineration. It is opposed by the Green Party as well as the Bund Naturschutz -the largest and oldest environmental organization in Germany. But the most significant organizing tool against incineration has been the very vocal opposition from doctors, especially paediatricians. In Waste Not # 125 we published a resolution adopted by the 12,000 strong Munich Medical Association. We have since learned that in October 1990 this resolution was adopted by the Bavarian Medical Association on a vote by 140 delegates - they voted 139 to 1 to adopt the resolution! [Note: Please send any information on medical committees in the U.S. that have come out against incineration to Waste Not.] Meanwhile, more and more communities in Bavaria, and elsewhere, are instituting programs reflecting many features of the Better Garbage Concept, which are:

Waste Avoidance 15%
Composting 30%
Recycling 25%
and the biological stabilization
of the residue prior to landfilling.

These features are being adopted not only because they are appealing to citizens who wish to see their communities protected and who wish to see a better attitude to the use of the world’s dwindling resources, but also because incineration is being priced out of the market with the new stringent standards for air emissions and ash handling. Consultants and officials are acknowledging that tipping fees at incinerators (and this does not include collection and transport costs) will be rising to 400 to 500 DM (approx 1.4 DM to the dollar) per ton of waste.

*Volksbegeheren: The citizens’ initiative to get the Better Garbage Concept law on the ballot. This required 10% of the Bavarian voters (850,000) to go to their town halls in a 12-day period (June 16-28, 1990) and sign the initiative. They got l,060,000 voters to do this.

**Volksentschied: The vote on Feb 17, 1991. The voters were given the choice between two garbage laws - the Bavarian government’s law or the Citizens law. The Government’s law supported incineration as a major part of their program, the Citizens law only allowed incineration as a last resort if it could be shown that incineration was safer than any other means of handling waste.

CHRISTIAN SOCIAL UNION (CSU): The very conservative political party that has dominated Bavarian politics for many years. CSU advertisements told citizens that if they voted for the Better Garbage Concept it would mean higher taxes, a huge garbage bureaucracy, stinking garbage, and a landfill in every town.

Incineration industry: Many advertisements appeared, with little identification at first, but later were identified in ads as sponsored by the following incinerator industries: ABB W+E Umwelttechnik GmbH, Nurnberg; Deutsche Babcock Anlagenbau AG, Krefeld; EVT Energie- und Verfahrenstechnik GmbH, Stuttgart, Nurenberg, Koln; Lurgi Energie- und Umwelttechnik GmbH, Frankfurt/Main; Martin GmbH fur Umwelt- und Energietechnik, Munchen; Noell K+K Abfalltechnik GmbH, Wurzbvurg; Von Roll GmbH, Frankfurt.

For more information please see the video Europeans Mobilizing Against Incineration available for $25 from Video-Active Productions, Route 2, Box 322, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-386-8797.


“Hazardous chemicals exploded early Wednesday at a controversial chemical-waste incinerator on the Southeast Side, resulting in the release of an unknown amount of potentially toxic gases. At about 1 a.m., unknown chemicals blew up while being incinerated at Chemical Waste Management’s hazardous-waste incinerator...The explosion occurred inside the facility’s rotary kiln, where hazardous chemicals are destroyed at temperatures of up to 2,250 degrees. Bob Reincke, spokesman for Chemical Waste, a subsidiary of Oak Brook-based Waste Management Inc., said the force of the explosion blew open a maintenance door of the kiln, allowing a cloud of dark smoke to escape ‘for about 2 minutes...Our initial investigation does not indicate any impact on the environment, employee health, or the community,’ Reincke said. State Rep. Clem Balanoff (D-Chicago), an outspoken critic of the incinerator, renewed his call for the permanent shutdown of the facility, which is operating under a temporary state permit and was fined $3.75 million [see Waste Not #119] by the federal government last year for violations of operating procedures...”-Chicago Tribune, 2-14-91, section 2, page 6. According to the Southtown Economist , 2-15-91, page A-13: “The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency [IEPA], trying to determine what caused the explosion, said Thursday that CWM [Chemical Waste Management] had not provided a log that could identify what caused the explosion. ‘We are right now trying to get access to that log,’ IEPA spokeswoman Christy Trutter said. CWM spokesman Bob Reincke said the incinerator remains closed during the investigation. He would not comment on the log that is supposed to detail what hazardous wastes were being burned...CWM is operating the incinerator pending an appeal of a 1989 permit denial by the IEPA. The US EPA has said it expected to issue a new permit for the incinerator to burn toxic PCBs.” For more information contact Beth Newman at the Chicago Greenpeace office at: 312-666-3305.

WASTE NOT # 140 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian Subscriptions $US45. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.