The Virginia legislature is considering HB2173/SB1164, a bill that would weaken environmental oversight and permitting of chemical plants that melt down plastic waste to turn it into fuel, or often more plastic. The chemical and plastics industries have branded this “Advanced Recycling”, but the truth is that this bill would give these polluting industries a green light to build these experimental chemical plants in Virginia, often near communities of color who are already impacted by excessive air and water pollution. These “pyrolysis” plants will not reduce the use of single use plastics or solve the recycling problem – on the contrary, they will feed the demand for continued use of disposable plastics to benefit the petrochemical industry. It’s not recycling at all.
We need your help to tell our legislators not to be duped by these polluting industries, and vote NO on HB2173/SB1164. The House version, HB2173, is already headed to the House floor on Monday, so there is no time to waste.
The bill would exempt these Chemical Conversion plants from being regulated as solid waste facilities, making it much easier for them to be financed and built with reduced environmental oversight in communities across the state. The terms “chemical recycling” or “advanced recycling” are used by the fossil fuel industry to greenwash a polluting and carbon intensive process that is riddled with system failures and will make the plastic and climate crisis worse. About 50% of the carbon content of waste plastics is typically lost as greenhouse gases during the chemical conversion.
79% of waste to energy facilities are located in low-income and communities of color. These facilities expose residents to harmful particulates that cause cancer, respiratory illnesses, and neurological disorders. Chemical Conversion facilities release toxic chemicals including lead, arsenic, mercury, bisphenol-A, cadmium, benzene, and volatile organic compounds. The plastics industry has not released any peer reviewed information documenting the environmental impacts of the entire lifecycle for the Chemical Conversion process.
Take action today to demand answers and to halt this bill before it’s too late. If Virginia is serious about becoming a leader in green energy and reducing greenhouse gases, this is not a step in the right direction. In fact, it will make our air worse and drive up a demand for plastic.