Over 70 organizations and businesses signed a letter to New Mexico’s governor last week, asking her not to classify chemical recycling as recycling.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a democrat, attended the opening of a PlastikGas demonstration facility in Los Lunas, N.M. last year, which is driving the letter writers’ concerns.
The terms “chemical recycling” and “advanced recycling” generally refer to a wide array of processes that use heat, pressure and solvents to break down the molecular chains of polymers into liquids or gasses that can then be processed into fuels, oils, waxes, new plastics or other chemical products.
So far, 21 states have passed laws classifying chemical recycling as manufacturing rather than waste disposal, changing the emissions laws the processes are subject to.
The 78 organizations and businesses submitted a letter “urging the Governor to champion policies that will reduce plastic waste at the source and protect our families from reckless and unchecked sources of pollution.”
Ana Rios, New Mexico field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, said in a press release that communities “already overburdened by toxic air pollution and environmental injustice are the very ones who will be subjected to the additional harms” from the facilities.
Alexis Goldsmith, organizing director for Beyond Plastic, called pyrolysis, gasification and solvolysis “false recycling.” Sarah Pierpont, executive director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition called them “false solutions.”
“Chemical recycling is a distraction that is not a part of this circular economy solution, but instead an unproven and polluting continuation of our current linear economy,” Pierpont added. “We should focus on source reduction of plastics, reuse and expanded use and capacity of our existing, mechanical recycling programs.”
Other signatories include Californians Against Waste, the Center for Biological Diversity, several churches, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Greenpeace, Indivisible Albuquerque and Indivisible Santa Fe, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Progressive Democrats of America – Central New Mexico, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, The Last Beach Cleanup and The Story of Stuff Project.
A version of this story appeared in Plastics Recycling Update on Jan. 31.
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