Tell EPA: Protect Communities from Dangerous False Solutions to the Plastic Crisis

EPA Administrator Michael Regan and EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Barry Breen

Three plastic bottles melting
Image: Created via Canva

The largest fossil fuel companies in the world have invested billions of dollars in plastics production. For them, plastics are Plan B. Meaning they won’t let widespread efforts to reduce plastic pollution get in their way. As people throughout the world demand less plastic in their lives, the fossil fuel industry has developed a marketing scheme to make a plastic-filled world seem more sustainable: Advanced recycling.

Advanced recycling refers to a class of technologies that use heat and/or solvents to break plastic down into chemical building blocks. The fossil fuel industry wants us to think that these technologies can help solve our plastic recycling woes. But here’s the problem: Those chemical building blocks are toxic and climate-damaging.

Plastics are made by combining fossil fuels with toxic chemicals. Any facility that uses heat or solvents to break plastics down is going to be polluting and dangerous. On top of that, these advanced recycling facilities are expensive and have a long history of failure.

But the fossil fuel industry won’t let the reality of advanced recycling get in its way. The industry and its lobbyists are pushing state governments and our federal government to remove commonsense regulations and implement laws and programs that promote advanced recycling.

We need the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject advanced recycling and the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to keep us hooked on a dangerous cycle of making and destroying plastic.

Take action with us – Urge the EPA to keep communities safe from “advanced recycling”

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To: EPA Administrator Michael Regan and EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Barry Breen
From: [Your Name]

Dangerous false solutions like chemical recycling and advanced recycling won’t help us address the plastic pollution crisis facing our country. In fact, they’ll only make the problem worse by boiling and burning plastic into toxic chemicals and climate-damaging emissions. And by deepening our dependence on single-use plastics.

I urge you to reject the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries’ ongoing campaign to promote chemical recycling or advanced recycling technologies. Gasification, pyrolysis, solvolysis, and all other technologies that use heat and/or solvents to break plastics down into fuels, chemical feedstocks, hydrocarbons, and waste byproducts are toxic and climate-damaging. The fossil fuel industry is pushing for exemptions, subsidies, and regulatory loopholes for these technologies, all of which will only make plastic pollution worse.

Please take the following actions to protect our communities and our climate from these dangerous false solutions:

- Reject the proposal to remove gasification and pyrolysis units from the definition of municipal waste combustion units under Section 129 of the Clean Air Act. Gasification and pyrolysis facilities burn waste, and they must be regulated accordingly.
- Remove all discussion of chemical recycling from the National Recycling Strategy. These toxic, climate-damaging, and ineffective false solutions have no place in a strategy intended to create a stronger, more resilient, and cost effective recycling system.
- Publicly reject all efforts by the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries to rebrand chemical recycling and advanced recycling as either recycling or manufacturing.
- Impose a nationwide moratorium on all permits for chemical recycling and advanced recycling facilities.
- Stop approving plastic-derived fuels as renewable fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard program and rescind all previous approvals for plastic-derived fuels.

The only way to solve our plastic pollution crisis is to stop making so much plastic. We need you to take a firm stance against toxic, climate-damaging chemical recycling and advanced recycling technologies that will only make this crisis worse.