Just Zero Report Exposes Fossil Fuel Campaign Behind “Advanced Recycling”

pile of plastic waste in yellow trash bin

Kevin Budris, Just Zero – kbudris@just-zero.org, (617) 905-1302

December 14, 2022 – Today, Just Zero released a new report: “Loopholes, Injustice, & the ‘Advanced Recycling’ Myth.” The report exposes misinformation spread by the fossil fuel industry about advanced recycling, chemical recycling, and other toxic and climate-damaging technologies that melt, boil, and burn plastic waste. Just Zero’s report focuses on the American Chemistry Council’s extensive lobbying efforts to create state law loopholes that help these facilities evade public oversight and environmental protections, and provide financial support for advanced recycling.

“The fossil fuel industry sees plastics production as its lifeline, and it needs to convince people that advanced recycling can solve our plastic pollution problem,” says Kevin Budris, Senior Counsel & Program Director at Just Zero. “But advanced recycling facilities are expensive, toxic, and don’t work. So, the industry is pushing for legal loopholes that make it cheaper and easier to build these facilities, while silencing communities and hiding the truth behind the advanced recycling myth.”

These loopholes come in two categories. First are laws that define advanced recycling as “manufacturing,” which allows these facilities to skirt rules that apply to solid waste and recycling facilities, including public permitting processes, siting restrictions, public input, and reporting requirements. The second category are laws that allow burning plastic waste at advanced recycling facilities to count as “recycling.” These laws compete with efforts to reduce plastic packaging and funnel money to struggling advanced recycling facilities.

“Worst of all,” says Budris, “these loopholes perpetuate injustice and environmental racism. 76% of advanced recycling facilities are located in historically marginalized environmental justice communities, including communities of color and low-income communities. The legal loopholes pushed by the American Chemistry Council disempower, and even target, these communities.”

The fossil fuel industry’s push for loopholes won’t change the fact that advanced recycling facilities don’t recycle – they melt, boil, and burn plastic. But that’s not the point. The industry succeeds if it convinces lawmakers and the public that advanced recycling can make plastics “sustainable.”

“The fossil fuel industry profits off the plastics that choke our environment and damage our climate, and it’s using the myth of advanced recycling to keep us hooked on those plastics,” says Kirstie Pecci, Executive Director at Just Zero. “Just Zero was formed to take on the dangerous industries that created our waste crisis, and we’re doing just that through this report.”

“Loopholes, Injustice, & the ‘Advanced Recycling’ Myth” is available for download.


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