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Success story: Working with local communities and authorities for sustainable waste solutions

Bankwatch's work on waste issues chimes closely with what a majority of Europeans want, namely more recycling and fewer incinerators. It's a major reason why we have had so many victories (see below) against incinerator projects.

Bankwatch member group Green Action successfully protested against EIB financing of a municipal waste incinerator.

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But companies promoting incinerators have a tremendous appetite for public funds – whether from the EBRD, the EIB or the EU funds – and it shows no sign of decreasing, with more and more such projects starting to spring up further east in the Caucasus and central Asia.

Not only do these large incinerators pose real threats to the health of neighbouring communities, they are also a massive drain on resources that could be invested more wisely in reuse and recycling. What’s more, the more environment friendly schemes also create many more jobs for the same amount of money invested.

That’s why Bankwatch is keen to promote reuse and recycling at every opportunity. Take our member group Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, for instance. It not only has a well-developed programme to ensure that EU funds are not utilised to fuel unsustainable incinerators, but instead aims to promote use of the funds to help local authorities and populations benefit from separating, composting and recycling waste. In 2010 the group met its target of assisting five Czech local authorities to develop sustainable waste management plans, and more progress is in the pipeline, with more than 40 other local authorities signing up to our member's information network 'Path towards the recycling society'.

In 2006, Friends of the Earth Czech Republic stopped two incinerator projects and advocated successfully for incinerators not to enjoy EU financial support from environment budgets. Other notable Bankwatch successes in the waste sector in recent years are:

Local citizen participating in public hearings on the planned National Hazardous Waste Centre project in Kovachevo village, Stara Zagora region, Bulgaria.

  • Bankwatch undertook a vigorous campaign for two years, working closely with local people, that in 2005 resulted in the blocking of multi-million euro funding from the EU for Bulgaria’s proposed National Hazardous Waste Centre project, consisting of two hazardous waste incinerators in the region of Stara Zagora.
  • In 2007, concerted campaigning involving regular street actions spearheaded by our Croatian partners Green Action led to a U turn from the EIB that had been showing interest in financing the 385,000 tonnes per year Zagreb municipal waste incinerator.
  • In 2010, people power prevented EU funds going up in smoke in Lithuania, when two major incinerator projects were blocked for EU funding thanks to the work of Atgaja, our member group based in Kaunas. Close campaign collaboration with local communities proved to be a crucial factor, pressuring the local authorities to backtrack from their previously strong bias in favour of incineration.