Speaker Announces House Will Not Consider So-Called “Advanced Recycling” Bill

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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Speaker of the House Joe Shekarchi PHOTO: GoLocal

On Tuesday morning, GoLocal published a story about growing opposition to a bill that opponents say would allow for the unregulated burning of plastics and what proponents call an innovation to recycle plastic products.

“The House will not be considering legislation (H 8089 / S 2788A) this year that adds advanced recycling as a definition for refuse disposal. We are a member-driven body and our members have spoken to us loudly and clearly that they have serious unresolved questions about this bill, ”Shekarchi’s office said in a statement.

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI), People’s Port Authority, environmental justice organizations, and community members issued a statement on Monday stating the groups have “strong opposition to toxic, plastic burning or so-called ‘advanced recycling’ bills (S2788 / H8089) which undermine efforts to protect environmental justice communities and meet Act on Climate goals. ”

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“We have had the best year ever regarding environmental legislation and we do not want to take a step backward by passing this bill. As examples, we have passed, or are about to pass, legislation that establishes the strongest renewable energy standard in the country, increases renewable energy production and supply, increases offshore wind capacity, reduces the use of plastic bags, removes harmful ‘forever chemicals’ in our water and packaging, and invests hundreds of millions of dollars to support climate resilience and the green and blue economy. We enacted the landmark Act on Climate legislation last year, and really kept the momentum rolling in our session which is wrapping up this week, ”Shekarchi’s office said.

American Chemistry Council sent out a message on Monday through the lobbying group New Harbor which stated, “Advanced recycling is a manufacturing process that uses different technologies to convert used plastics into virgin-quality new plastics that have been approved for use in the most sensitive applications , including food contact and medical uses. The process will help reduce plastic waste in Rhode Island’s Central Landfill, which is projected to be at capacity in the next decade. Advanced recycling supports continued progress toward eliminating waste and achieving sustainability goals and could double the plastics packaging recycling rate in the US and Canada by 2030, according to a recent report by Closed Loop Partners, an investment and research firm. “

RIDEM voiced strong opposition ot the legislation. “Our interpretation is that if it were to pass, DEM would not have authority to require permitted activities or otherwise regulate these facilities under our solid waste regulations. Also, how much these facilities would be regulated under our air pollution control regulations is unclear. As the letter indicates, we raised concerns about the original bill.The Sub A adds limitations on where an advanced recycling / pyrolysis facility could be built and requires additional air quality monitoring for any such facility.Our concerns with 2788 Sub A Senate bill remain the same as they were initially, “said Michael Healey, spokesperson for DEM.

“DEM believes that it sets a bad precedent to provide regulatory exemptions to a specific technology. I do not believe the House version of the bill has received a hearing yet, but our testimony would be the same. The solid waste permitting process should allow an opportunity for public comment, authority to set conditions on the overall facility construction and operation, and provide financial assurances that closure would be done properly should the facility run into difficulties.Given that this is an innovative technology, we believe these measures are important, adds Healey.

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