Garbage In, Toxics Out: They Promised “Advanced Recycling” for Plastics and Delivered Toxic Waste
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Intercept
Posted: October 8th, 2023
Braven Environmental [is] a company that says it can recycle nearly 90 percent of plastic waste through a form of chemical recycling called pyrolysis. Traditional recycling is able to process only about 8.7 percent of America’s plastic waste; pyrolysis uses high temperatures and low-oxygen conditions to break down the remaining plastics, like films and Styrofoam, ideally turning them into feedstock oil for new plastic production. The American Chemistry Council, the country’s leading petrochemical industry trade group, claims that chemical recycling will create a “circular economy” for the bulk of the world’s plastic, diverting it from oceans and landfills. Plastic giants have gone so far as to dub the process “advanced recycling,” but environmentalists say this is a misnomer because the majority of the plastic processed at such facilities is not recycled at all. In fact, researchers have found that the process uses more energy and has a worse overall environmental impact than virgin plastic production. Despite these challenges, lawmakers nationwide are now embracing the technology, thanks to a massive lobbying push from ... petrochemical groups. One list of warnings in a Braven air permit application reads like a toxicologist’s worst nightmare: The pyrolysis oil may cause cancer and genetic defects, as well as damage to organs, fertility, and unborn children. Other hazards included being “extremely flammable” and “very toxic to aquatic life” with “long lasting effects.”
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