For decades, the fossil fuel and plastics industries have promoted “advanced recycling,” technologies that can be used to break down single-use plastics, but environmental nonprofits report that the effort is no longer scientific. It’s more a gimmick than
The report, ‘Loopholes, Injustice, and the ‘Advanced Recycling’ Myth’, published by Kevin Budris, Senior Council and Program Director of Just Zero, explores ways to avoid costly lobbying for environmentally damaging recycling technologies. , says that reducing the amount of plastic produced is a better solution. environment.
“This expensive, unreliable and toxic myth is not recycling any meaningful amount of plastic,” the report said. Their interest is to fool lawmakers and the public that this silver bullet will solve the plastic problem.”
The report also lobbies the American Chemical Council, a trade group of fossil fuel and plastic companies, to create state laws like those in New Hampshire that would allow for advanced recycling operations that circumvent oversight and environmental protection. Activities are also explained in detail.
“All these efforts are aimed at increasing plastic production by making it look more sustainable,” Budris said of the lobbying efforts of the fossil fuel industry across the country. “In fact, single-use plastic is neither sustainable nor recyclable.”
Advanced recycling, also called chemical recycling, uses heat or chemical reactions to break down plastics, especially hard-to-recycle plastics like shrink wrap, into a soup-like consistency. fuel.
Heidi Trimarco, an attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, said he was concerned about the concept of advanced recycling because he rarely sees recycled products emerging from the process.
“It’s a true ecological term,” says Trimarco. “It’s almost always incineration.”
The American Chemistry Council says the technology is an important step towards moving from a linear model of “make, use and dispose” to a circular economy that allows more plastics to be recycled. Some of the largest companies in the fossil fuel and plastics industry are members of this council, including ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron and Reliance Industries.
Joshua Baka, vice president of plastics at the American Chemistry Council, said, “The misleading and inaccurate claims made by Just Zero may help them raise donations, but they don’t make plastics private.” It has nothing to do with our ongoing efforts to keep it in our economy and out of our environment.” , in response to the nonprofit’s report on advanced recycling.
Mechanical recycling can only process certain types of plastics. Materials such as the flexible plastics used in toy packaging and single-use bags cannot be recycled through traditional methods. Advanced recycling could be one way he addresses the growing amount of plastic waste, said Reagan He Bissonette, executive director of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association. But she said the best thing to do is reduce the amount of plastic that is manufactured in the first place.
Building advanced recycling facilities is costly and environmentally harmful, but the report reveals that the fossil fuel industry is lobbying for legal loopholes in 20 states.
One of the laws in favor of these facilities is to regulate advanced recycling as ‘manufacturing’, but in theory it works similarly to solid waste and recycling facilities. This means that advanced recycling operations are not subject to location restrictions, reporting requirements, permitting processes, and public involvement.
New Hampshire is one of them. It is also the only New England province to pass legislation that creates loopholes in the advanced recycling industry. To keep plastic out of landfills, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed SB 367 into law in June.
Although there are no advanced recycling facilities in the state, Budris said New Hampshire has “rolled out the red carpet” for industry to set up shops here.
“New Hampshire legislators gave the advanced recycling industry a free pass,” Budris said. “They have enabled advanced recycling facilities to bypass common sense environmental regulations.”
Another legal loophole successfully established by industry lobbyists hinders public involvement in the decision-making process for building advanced recycling plants, making it difficult for affected communities to voice their concerns. I’m here.
According to the report, 76% of advanced recycling facilities in the United States are located in historically marginalized communities of color and low-income communities.
While several states have passed these loophole laws, Budris said there are still plenty of opportunities to do it right and protect communities.
“States can implement regulations that require reasonable oversight of advanced recycling industries to limit and prohibit the construction of these facilities,” Budris said.