The petrochemical industry has spent the past few years hard at work lobbying for state-level legislation to promote “chemical recycling,” a controversial process that critics say isn’t really recycling at all. The legislative push, spearheaded by an industry group called the American Chemistry Council, aims to reclassify chemical recycling as a manufacturing process, rather than waste disposal — a move that would subject facilities to less stringent regulations concerning pollution and hazardous waste.
The strategy appears to be working. According to a new report from the nonprofit Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, or GAIA, 20 states have passed bills to exempt chemical recycling facilities from waste management requirements — despite significant evidence that most facilities end up incinerating the plastic they receive.
“These facilities are in actuality waste-to-toxic-oil plants, processing plastic to turn it into a subpar and polluting fuel,” the report says. Tok Oyewole, GAIA’s U.S. and Canada policy and research coordinator and the author of the report, called for federal regulation to crack down on the plastic industry’s “misinformation” and affirm chemical recycling’s status as a waste management process.