PIRG and state affiliates call for EPA regulation of polluting technology

Media Contacts
Juliana Clejan

‘Chemical recycling’ facilities don’t recycle, but they do produce dangerous emissions


WASHINGTON — PIRG, along with affiliate groups, submitted comments urging the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate gasification technologies, often mislabeled as “chemical recycling” or “advanced recycling.” Facilities utilizing these polluting technologies currently operate unregulated by federal air quality standards.

“We’re excited that EPA is addressing this timely and important issue,” said Juliana Clejan, PIRG’s Zero Waste associate. “Despite the marketing, we know that these technologies do not create renewable products, but rather they create new forms of waste, moving toxic chemicals out of landfills to the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

Due to the high temperatures required for pyrolysis and gasification, experts believe that these pyrolysis and gasification facilities may emit toxic pollution at levels equal to or exceeding traditional incineration facilities, pollution that increases the risk of cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects and other serious illnesses.

“Here in Pennsylvania, we’re seeing the petrochemical industry push for this so-called recycling technology that endangers our health and our environment,” said Faran Savitz, conservation associate with PennEnvironment, one of the groups to submit comments. “Just like calling a hot dog ‘sushi’ doesn’t make it sushi, calling burning waste ‘recycling’ doesn’t change what it is: just another way to burn fossil fuels.”

The deadline for EPA’s public comment submission is on December 23, 2021. At that point, the EPA will review comments and announce a decision in the coming months. A portal to submit comments can be found here.

“The EPA has a historic chance here to course correct and prevent the proliferation of a uniquely dangerous plastic-to-pollution industry. We hope the agency will listen to the many voices, including ours, urging them to make the right decision,” said Clejan.