Plans for a waste-to-energy incineration plant by Veolia in Mexico City, Mexico

The threat of waste incinerator in Mexico City put informal waste pickers’ livelihoods at risk. The impact on the resource access of informal recyclers was not considered in the project


In May of 2017, the government of Mexico City signed a contract with the transnational company Veolia to build and operate a major waste incinerator. The waste-to- energy incinerator is aimed to supply energy to the twelve lines of Mexico City subway.

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Basic Data
NamePlans for a waste-to-energy incineration plant by Veolia in Mexico City, Mexico
SiteMexico City
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific CommoditiesDomestic municipal waste
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project Details4.500 tons of waste a day are needed for the incinerator to operate.
Level of Investment (in USD)1,000,000,000.00 [2]
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected PopulationMore than 10,000 waste pickers [2]
Start Date01/05/2017
End Date01/10/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesVeolia Environment from France
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersWomen in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO).
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInformal workers
Local government/political parties
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.From an environmental justice point of view it was a success due to the cease of the contract. On the other hand, the ceasing was due to legal and monetary reasons and not to environmental ones. Therefore, there was not an environmental reasoning when the decision was taken.
Sources and Materials

[3] Journal Contralínea from Mexico.
[click to view]

[5] Journal "Proceso" from Mexico.
[click to view]

[2] Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) network.
[click to view]

[6] Journal "Jornada" from Mexico.
[click to view]

[4] Journal "Expansion" from Mexico
[click to view]

[1] Journal The Guardian.
[click to view]


Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) network. This network could serve as a guide for waste pickers conflicts in different cities.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Incinerator plant 'El Sarape' project Credits:
[click to view]

Assembly discussion about incineration plant Credits:
[click to view]

Workers and waste lorries of Mexico City Credits: Miguel Dimayuga.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorValeria Calvas
Last update11/04/2019