Chemical recycling of plastic gets a boost in 18 US states—but environmentalists question whether it really is recycling

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

As the tide of plastic waste rises, the US public is turning to elected officials for solutions. Legislators in 18 states have passed laws to encourage the chemical recycling of plastic, also known as advanced recycling. These laws deem chemical recycling facilities manufacturers, not waste-handling facilities. This classification can pave the way for government financial incentives and less-stringent regulation. Environmental advocates say the laws promote the processing of discarded plastics into home heating oil or other fuels through processes that are polluting and amount to incineration, which is not recycling as the public understands it. But the chemical industry says market demand for more recycled content in plastic means chemical recycling facilities are increasingly selling their products to polymer makers for feedstock. The industry is also using the state laws as backing as it seeks to loosen federal Clean Air Act regulation of facilities that use pyrolysis and gasification, two processes used for chemically recycling plastic.

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