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Krakow waste incinerator, Poland


Poland is using EU funds to construct municipal waste incinerators. Such distribution of funds would contradict the EU waste management main objective, according to which priority must be given to the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste, which are more cost-effective and environment-friendly solutions. They also create much more employment, frequently for people from socially excluded groups.

Many of the planned incinerators are oversized and will compete for resources with recycling facilities. The projects have been facing strong public opposition, most strikingly seen in protests in Krakow, where protests have been sparked around the city in each location that is considered for the plant and the standards of the public consultations have fallen far short of what is widely recognized as good practice.

Krakow's City have seen the EUR 120 million (planned) investment as the only possible solution to the problem of growing waste volumes both in the city and in surrounding areas.

The current recycling and composting level in Krakow is well below the EU-27 average. Krakow's latest draft waste management plan puts the recycling plus composting rate at 7,8 percent currently, while Eurostat figures present a 39 percent average rate across Europe as a whole (The EU's Waste Framework Directive requires 50% recycling of plastics, metal, paper and glass until 2020.) The authorities have so far failed to implement effective measures for boosting recycling volumes. In fact, the plan to construct a 240 000 tonnes-per-year incinerator will even further marginalize recycling efforts. In essence, once the incinerator is built – as with all incinerators – it will need to burn as much waste as possible in order to lower its operational costs. Easily combustible types of waste, like paper or plastic, will be directed for incineration, not for recycling, thus wasting valuable resources and energy. In other words, the incinerator will drain not only funds but also recoverable materials.

It will cost PLN797m (€190m), nearly half of which will come from the EU (EUR 92 382 339).

Another 34% will be financed by a preferential loan from a national fund for environmental protection and water management.

At present, there is one municipal waste incinerator functioning in Poland – in the country's capital, Warsaw. The plant is generating losses and each tonne of waste incinerated in it needs to be 40 percent subsidized from public money.

Although the Krakow authorities present the investment as a solution that will rescue Krakow from its waste problem once and for all, in fact even if the incinerator is constructed the city will still need another landfill. The plant will produce around 70 000 tonnes of ash and residues per year – partially toxic – that will need to be disposed somewhere. Increasing recycling and composting levels, as well as focusing on waste prevention schemes, would be much more effective in lowering landfilled waste volumes over a longer period of time.

Despite having one of the lowest recycling ratios in the EU-27, Poland is currently opting to channel two-thirds of its EU funds available for waste management into waste incineration.

POSCO E&C is currently building two process lines and combined heat & power facilities at waste thermal treatment plant, and as of the end of July 2014, progress on the project is at the 60% mark. The company plans to complete construction by December 2015.

Basic Data

Name of conflict: Krakow waste incinerator, Poland
Location of conflict:Krakow
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Incinerators
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The facilities will be capable of incinerating waste of approximately 680 tons a day (14.1 tons/hour x 2 units) and waste of approximately 220,000 tons a year, giving it a power production capacity of approximately 10.74MWh by using the heat from incineration. (This is more waste suitable for incineration than Krakow is able to produce – according to the current estimates Krakow produces around 180 000 ton of burnable wast e annually.)

The plant will produce around 70 000 tonnes of ash and residues per year – partially toxic.

It has been calculated that traffic intensity related directly with waste transport will amount to one truck per 3 minutes on average. Recently, the streets in the neighborhood are constantly jammed

and joining of hundreds of waste trucks to this traffic will result in a complete road traffic paralysis of the XII and XIII Quarters. Trucks with slag and hazardous ash will be also included among the users of these roads.

The MSW incineration plant would be situated as close as 300 m from the first row of residential buildings in Rybitwy and Przewóz and 400 m from Złocień. The latter is a home to 4000 inhabitants and there are plans for further expansion.

The project has received a grant of 385.5 m złoty from the EU Infrastructure and Environment Programme, the largest EU Commission subsidy ever granted to a public facility. The remaining 275 m złoty will come from a commercial loan to KHK, which will fund repayments by selling the heat and electricity generated by the plant.

Project area:50
Level of Investment:190,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:100,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2000
Company names or state enterprises: Krakow Communal Holding (Krakowskiego Holdingu Komunalnego) (KHK) from Poland
Posco Engineering & Construction (POSCO) from Republic of Korea
Relevant government actors:Poland government, Krakow Local Authorities (Mayors of Krakow: Urząd Miasta, Jacek Majchrowski)
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Polish Green Network (, CEE Bankwatch

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Fires, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Increasing recycling and composting levels, as well as focusing on waste prevention schemes, would be much more effective in lowering landfilled waste volumes over a longer period of time. Alternatives such as prevention, recycling and waste separation create more sustainable jobs, business niches and local development.
The documents presented so far for the planned Krakow incinerator do not consider any sound alternatives for waste burning. Major source separation, recycling or composting schemes are not being implemented or even planned, despite the fact that they are cheaper and allow for resource conservation and greater energy savings.
Alternatives to waste incineration have not been properly assessed on national, regional or local level. Waste management plans, such as Warsaw’s waste management plan published for public consultation in October 2008, are clearly written in order justify the pre-chosen option – waste incineration.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Regardless strong public opposition, the project goes on.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Petition to the EP

Explanatory Comments on the Polish Incinerator Project Awarded with the RegioScars Award 2009

POSCO E&C Holds Ceremony for Completing the Boiler Drum of Poland's First Incineration Plant

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

KHK - Communal Waste Incineration Plant - Krakow - Construction Project Profile

New contractor needed for Krakow incineration plant

Green protesters stand in the way of waste incineration plants

Boiler Drum Lifting Ceremony

Krakow’s Controversial Waste Incinerator Programme on the Final Stretch

Krakow authorities support the construction of a waste incinerator,69715,krakow-authorities-support-the-construction-of-a-waste-incinerator.html

EC- Regional policy / Waste incineration plant in Kraków will recover energy from household and industrial trash®ion=ALL&obj=ALL&per=2&defL=EN

Meta information

Contributor:Katarina; [email protected]
Last update12/01/2015