Rhode Island Set to Limit High-Heat Medical Waste Facilities

Pile of medical waste

Medical Supplies. Photo: Shutterstock

July 1, 2021 (PROVIDENCE, RI) – Rhode Island’s legislature has passed a bill that will protect the state’s communities and environment from the known risks of burning medical waste with high-heat technologies. Burning trash of any kind, including medical waste and plastics, sends toxic emissions into neighborhoods and worsens the climate crisis. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.

“Dirty, climate-destroying waste-burning facilities have no place in Rhode Island,” said Kevin Budris, Zero Waste Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation Rhode Island. “This bill will protect Rhode Islanders, especially those living in communities already overburdened by pollution. We urge Governor McKee to protect our residents by signing this bill into law as soon as possible.”

The newly passed High-Heat Medical Waste Facility Act will help protect Rhode Island by prohibiting all new high-heat medical waste facilities near historically overburdened communities, homes and schools, and the state’s waters and green spaces. All forms of waste burning are dangerous and climate-damaging, including incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis.

This bill is an important first step, but work remains to protect Rhode Island residents and the climate from high-heat facilities that burn other types of waste, especially plastics. Rhode Island will not meet the enforceable goals in the Act on Climate law unless it continues to take significant action to keep these high-heat waste facilities out of the Ocean State. CLF will continue to work toward real Zero Waste solutions that keep all forms of burning waste out of Rhode Island.

CLF experts are available for further comment.