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Plastic Recycling Hoax Revealed

Pile of plastics for recycling

tanvi sharma/

According to a new report from the nonprofit Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), 20 states have passed bills to exempt chemical recycling facilities from waste management requirements, despite significant evidence that most facilities actually incinerate the plastic they receive.

The petrochemical industry, as represented by the American Chemistry Council, has been lobbying for state-level legislation to promote “chemical recycling”, a process that critics say is recycling in name only. Their goal is to reclassify chemical recycling as a manufacturing process, rather than waste disposal, with more lenient regulations concerning pollution and hazardous waste.

GAIA Policy and Research Coordinator and author of the report Tok Oyewole says, “These facilities are in actuality waste-to-toxic-oil plants, processing plastic to turn it into a subpar and polluting fuel.” The report calls for federal regulation to crack down on the plastic industry’s misinformation and affirm chemical recycling’s status as a waste management process.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether chemical recycling should be regulated under Section 129 of the Clean Air Act, which would define chemical recycling processes as incineration, potentially short-circuiting the petrochemical industry’s state legislative strategy, although Oyewole says it’s unclear whether the agency’s determination would override existing state legislation.

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