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Waste-to-energy incineration plant by Veolia in Mexico City, Mexico

The threat of a waste incinerator in Mexico City put wastepickers’ livelihoods at risk. The informal recyclers complained. The project was discardeded because of alleged corruption and excessive costs.


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
Name of conflict:Waste-to-energy incineration plant by Veolia in Mexico City, Mexico
Location of conflict:Mexico 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 commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Mexico City generates:12,000 tons of waste per day.

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Project area:34
Level of Investment for the conflictive project5,000,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:More than 10,000 waste pickers
Start of the conflict:01/05/2017
End of the conflict:2018
Company names or state enterprises:Veolia Environment from France
Relevant government actors:Government of Mexico City
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO).
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
Local government/political parties
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
WIEGO organizes photographic exhibitions and other activities
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsDioxins and furans
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:There was no proposals made by waste pickers since their focus was on stopping the construction of the incineration plant.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:From an environmental justice point of view it was a success due to the fact that the contract was stopped. One main cause was the allegations of corruption, aparte from the complaints from wastepckers. Veolia and its represantives might appeal to international arbitration. The contract was reverted due to legal and monetary reasons and not to environmental ones. There was not an environmental reasoning when the decision was taken. However, the governor of Mexico City after 2018 is Claudia Scheinbaum, an environmentalists, who is totally against the incinerator.
Sources & Materials

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[1] Article of the newspaper "The Guardian" about the company Veolia in Michigan
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[3] Article of the newspaper Contralínea from Mexico about the incineration project "El Sarape"
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[4]Article of the newspaper "Expansion" from Mexico about the incineration plant.
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[5] Article of the newspaper "El Proceso" about the assembly discussion
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[6] Article of the newspaper "Jornada" from Mexico about the suspension of the incineration project "El Sarape".
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[2 ]Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) network. This network could serve as a guide for waste pickers conflicts in different cities.
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

La Silla Rota, Shareni Guzman, 31 julio 2018. Con estos argumentos, Scheinbaum tirará negocio de Mancera para tratmiento de basura
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WIEGO, exposición fotográfica: trabajadores invisibles. 25 Sept 2018.
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WIEGO, exposición fotográfica
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Meta information
Contributor:Valeria Calvas
Last update12/09/2019
Conflict ID:4117
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