Surfrider Foundation's New Jersey Chapters helped stop Assembly bill 1759, which would have promoted the burning of used consumer plastic products in New Jersey. Working with a coalition of groups in New Jersey, Surfrider sent a letter to NJ political leadership and worked an action alert to send emails to elected officials.
Bill A1759 seeked to exempt a particular kind of plastics burning from New Jersey waste management regulations, effectively reducing environmental safeguards for the burning of plastics in our state.
The plastics industry calls this particular type of plastics burning “chemical” or “advanced” recycling, umbrella terms used to greenwash old incineration technologies, namely pyrolysis and gasification. Much of what the industry refers to as “advanced recycling” are actually plastic-to-fuel operations. These facilities heat plastic waste in order to create low-quality diesel fuels or synthetic gas (syngas), which is then burned onsite or shipped off to be burned elsewhere.
These facilities are often located in underserved and BIPOC communities, placing additional health and safety risks on those residents.
In 2018, a polystyrene pyrolysis plant in Oregon that purports to create virgin-like styrene and is widely touted as the paragon of “advanced recycling”, sent nearly 500,000 lbs of hazardous waste to be burned in cement kilns across the country, polluting the air in those communities.
Most people are now aware of the plastic pollution crisis, where plastic particles have been found in water, air, soil, and now human bodies. However, false solutions like “advanced recycling” will simply exchange landfills for air pollution, incentivize petrochemical expansion, and create more plastic waste.
For more information check out this blog post.