CONTACT: Celerah Hewes
Project Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Albuquerque, N.M. – Organizations and businesses are calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to not support the rebranding of plastic incineration in New Mexico as “recycling” in the upcoming legislative session. This request comes after the Governor joined the ribbon cutting at the opening of a PlastikGas demonstration facility in Los Lunas last year.
Plastics industry lobbyists have been promoting an old incineration method as a new way to solve the plastic pollution crisis. They are calling the process “advanced recycling,” even though nothing gets recycled. Instead, the trash that enters a so-called “advanced recycling” facility is burned, creating harmful air pollution and toxic ash.
Today 78 local and national organizations, as well as local 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. Organizations have come together with the shared goal of preventing New Mexico from passing legislation promoting plastic incineration and rebranding it as “chemical recycling,” thus exempting it from the pollution control requirements of the Clean Air Act.
Below are quotes for the media to use in their reporting:
“As the 2023 legislative session opens, parents across the state urge the Governor to prioritize bills that will reduce pollution and protect public health. Communities already overburdened by toxic air pollution and environmental injustice are the very ones who will be subjected to the additional harms caused by the uncontrolled burning of plastic waste. It’s why we are emphatically saying no to plastic incineration in our communities,” said Ana Rios, New Mexico field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force.
“As a mother, it’s appalling to me that New Mexico elected officials are re-branding plastic burning as “advanced recycling.” Burning plastic is NOT a climate solution. Vulnerable, frontline communities in New Mexico are already overburdened with air pollution and contamination. Now is the time to find true solutions to plastic pollution that focus on source reduction. Protect our health and our future,” said Anni Hanna of NM Climate Justice.
“False recycling like pyrolysis, gasification, and solvolysis does not reduce production of new plastic made from fossil fuels. These technologies release toxic emissions and are often located in environmental justice communities. False recycling has been designed by the same industries that have caused the plastic pollution crisis, in order to prevent laws that would ban single-use plastics. We’re urging Governor Lujan Grisham not to support false recycling and instead work with the NM state legislature to pass strong bills that would address plastics at the source,” said Alexis Goldsmith, Organizing Director for Beyond Plastic
“Much of what proponents refers to as “chemical recycling” is actually plastic-to-fuel operations that turn plastic waste back into low-quality fossil fuels to be burned. This is not recycling by any stretch of the definition, and it is a false solution to the plastic waste crisis. The New Mexico Recycling Coalition supports efforts to build a circular economy that reduce the negative lifecycle impact of materials. 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. We should focus on source reduction of plastics, reuse, and expanded use and capacity of our existing, mechanical recycling programs,” said Sarah Pierpont, Executive Director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition.
“Chemical or advanced recycling is more than a misnomer. It is a highly toxic process the petrochemical industry is embracing to perpetuate the production of fossil fuels and plastics to make up for declining revenues resulting from the shift to clean energy. By using this greenwashing term, they hope to dupe the public into believing this is a safe ecological solution to the plastic problem when in fact it is very harmful. Chemical recycling is not the answer to our plastic problem. Reducing plastic production and buying less of it, especially single-use plastics, is,” said Laurie Zunner, Co-founder of Plastic Action Team of New Mexico and Zero Waste Team Chair of Rio Grande Sierra Club Central Group.
“Chemical recycling, also known as advanced recycling, is not really recycling at all. It is just a ‘greenwashing’ term invented by the plastics industry for processes that incinerate or burn plastic waste. It is a dangerous false solution to the very real problem of plastic pollution in our state. Recent in-depth research by the Natural Resource Defense Council found that these false recycling facilities are dangerous due to the many toxic emissions that are released, including carcinogens, heavy metals, neurotoxins, and particulate matter. They are most often situated in low income and marginalized communities. Also, every ton of plastics that is incinerated produces nearly three tons of CO2, contributing to the climate crisis and negatively affecting our state’s climate goals. We urge the governor to not be seduced by the plastic industry’s hype, and to pursue real solutions. We have to stop making so much plastic!,” said Gary Stoller of Beyond Plastics Santa Fe.
- Fact Sheet: So-called “Advanced Recycling”
- Website: “Plastics and Petrochemicals“
- Letter to Congress: Federal Plastic Incineration Bill [Dated Sept. 19th 2022]. Moms Clean Air Force is a co-signer.
- Petition: “Tell EPA: Protect our Communities from Plastics Incineration Pollution”
- ISRI Position Statement: Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Position on Chemical Recycling