Legislative Alert | Tracking Trends in Advanced/Chemical “Recycling”

United States & Canada - Chemical recycling -

In 2020, GAIA released an alert identifying an alarming trend: legislators were introducing bills to promote the expansion of so-called “chemical recycling” (also known as “advanced recycling”, “waste-to-fuel”, “waste-to-plastic,” “plastic transformation,” and “plastics renewal”), eight of which had been signed into law. This unproven waste management strategy is endorsed by the plastic industry via its lobbying arm, the American Chemistry Council. This alert is an update on that trend, which the petrochemical industry has accelerated. Since our first alert, eleven more states have passed such laws, bringing the total to 20 since 2017. These laws relax pollution regulations and/or provide subsidies for these facilities, with some explicitly defining them as recycling facilities, despite numerous reports from media, watchdog, and nonprofit groups concluding that they are little more than plastic burning. In addition to these threats, this alert contains suggested intervention points for advocates and highlights legislative approaches that counter the expansion of these technologies.