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Harmful ‘Advanced Recycling’ Bill Goes to PA Senate
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Harmful ‘Advanced Recycling’ Bill Goes to PA Senate

Environmental advocates ask for calls to legislators; as the proposal to allow burning plastic to be called “recycling” works its way through Pennsylvania legislature.

As Philadelphia struggles to recycle its recylables, another piece of legislation making its way through Harrisburg would furhter set back statewide sustainability efforts.

House Bill 1808 is part of an effort by the American Chemistry Council to reclassify recycling to allow burning single-use plastics (similar to fossil fuels) for crude oil, jet fuel, and incineration. Under the legislation, this process can still be classified as “recycling” facilities.

Environmental advocates say that passing this bill will mean more fracking to make single-use plastics and more pollution.

PennEnvironment is urging Philadelphia residents to call their State Senators to vote no on this legislation.

Talking points that PennEnvironment suggests:

  • Likely lead to burning plastic waste instead of recycling it.  – Misleadingly packaged as “advanced recycling,” the practices promoted by HB 1808 aren’t recycling in the ways we think of recycling at all. The “Definitions” section of this bill allows polluting processes such as pyrolysis and gasification–expensive practices that convert plastics to liquid fuel products like fossil-fuel derived jet fuel or crude oil—to be considered recycling.
  • Increase climate pollution – One project currently proposed for construction would add an additional 1.75 million tons of global warming pollution annually, undoing efforts to rein in the Commonwealth’s climate emissions.
  • Increase air pollution – There is ample data showing that plastics-to-fuels can increase toxic air pollution for nearby communities and downwind residents. This includes emissions of dioxins, PCBs, lead, arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals.
  • Increase reliance on fossil fuels – This bill will mean more fracking to supply the single-use plastics needed to provide feed stock for these facilities.
  • Redirect clean energy funding to dirty projects- It’s likely that plastics-to-fuels facilities, despite their emissions, will lobby for renewable energy credits that will further compete with real renewable solutions such as wind and solar power.
  • Promote risky financial investment – Of the 37 plastics-to-fuel projects rolled out across the country since the early 2000s, only three are currently commercially operational, and estimates are that these risky projects have wasted over $2 billion, with failed and canceled projects around the globe.
  • Divert attention from true solutions – This distracts the General Assembly from implementing true, time-tested, cost-effective solutions to addressing plastic pollution upstream

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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