On Sunday, August 19th 2018, the Reppie waste to energy incinerator was inaugurated at the Koshe landfill site, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa . The 118 million-dollar  project is the result of a partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and a consortium of international companies: Cambridge Industries Limited (Singapore), China National Electric Engineering and Ramboll, a Danish engineering firm . The new plant burns rubbish and uses the heat to boil water and generate the steam needed to drive two turbine generators .
For about fifty years prior to the opening of the incinerator, waste pickers had been bringing garbage from Koshe landfill to Minalesh Tera, a central market of Addis Ababa, and selling it to middlemen or wholesalers . The landfill, which is around the size of 36 football fields , has grown to such a massive size that on March 11, 2017, 130 waste pickers were killed by an avalanche of garbage . 75 of those killed were women, highlighting the gendered mortality gap caused by unequal access to resources . However, instead of prompting the government to support the health, safety, and livelihoods of waste pickers, this tragedy only accelerated Reppie’s construction.
Reppie is intended to convert 350,000 tons of solid waste into 50MW of electricity annually . This amounts to 1,400 tons of waste daily, or roughly 80% of the refuse generated by Addis Ababa . While this is presented as a solution to the urban population’s accumulation of waste and growing energy demand by supplying the capital with 30% of household electricity needs , it comes at the expense of the living wage of waste pickers, who will lose their only income source . Consequently, the Reppie incinerator further marginalizes and displaces wastepickers, who are the informal recycling system of the city.
Samuel Alemayehu, a Stanford engineer and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who oversees the project, claims that “local waste pickers have to be an integral part of the project” , but this has yet to be seen. The reality is that incinerators offer relatively few jobs when compared to recycling. The Reppie incinerator is depriving waste pickers in the city of Addis Ababa of their livelihoods by burning the same materials that sustain recycling, such as paper and plastics . Waste pickers do not work in landfills by choice but as a result of failed waste management systems, rampant poverty and inequality . This incinerator does little to address these social issues and instead only perpetuates social and environmental injustice.