The Clean Air Council argued the state had erroneously exempted a planned chemical recycling facility from having to obtain a processing facility permit. | Vitte Yevhen/Shutterstock

A Pennsylvania environmental hearing board dismissed a group’s complaint against Encina Development Group’s planned chemical recycling facility after determining that the action lacked legal standing.

The complaint, which was filed by the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council, argued that the state “acted unreasonably, abused its discretion and committed legal error in determining that both phases of the planned Encina Point Township facility would meet the definition of an ‘advanced recycling facility’ per the Solid Waste Management Act.”

The Clean Air Council argued that because the first phase of Encina’s plans entailed “a standalone project that would engage in processing plastic waste,” the project overall did not meet the Solid Waste Management Act’s definition of advanced recycling. Accordingly, it appealed the decision to grant Encina an exemption from applying for a processing facility permit.

The appeal hinged on a letter sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to Encina Development Group. The Clean Air Council argued that the letter constituted a “final agency action” and was therefore liable to appeal. 

The Department of Environmental Protection review board found that because the letter did not affect any party’s personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties, liabilities or obligations, there was no basis for a right to appeal. Therefore, the complaint was dismissed.

A company statement noted that Encina is “committed to continuing its efforts to build the nation’s largest commercial-scale circular manufacturing facility in Point Township and realizing our vision for a future in which nothing is wasted.” 

In 2020, Pennsylvania amended its Solid Waste Management Act to classify chemical recycling as manufacturing as opposed to solid waste processing, a move that is part of a growing trend

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