RI Senate Passes Irresponsible Waste Bill

Would exempt plastic burning facilities from solid waste regulations

Rhode Island's state house

Rhode Island Srtate House. Photo: Tupungato via Shutterstock

June 7, 2022 (PROVIDENCE, RI) – Rhode Island’s Senate has passed a so-called “advanced recycling” bill (S-2788) that would exempt plastic burning facilities from state solid waste regulations. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.

“There is no good reason to exempt toxic, climate-damaging facilities from laws and regulations designed to keep Rhode Islanders safe,” said CLF Senior Attorney, Kevin Budris. “It makes no sense to pass a strong climate law and then undo that progress. This bill will not only strip our communities of their rights, but it will also set the state back on its climate goals. The House should not make the same mistake.”

If the bill becomes law, “advanced recycling” facilities could move into Rhode Island without the same siting restrictions, operating standards, government oversight, and public permitting processes that apply to other waste and recycling facilities.

“Advanced recycling” is a term coined by the plastic and fossil fuel industry that refers to technologies that use high-heat processes like pyrolysis and gasification to turn plastic waste into toxic chemicals and dirty plastic-derived fuels. While the industry claims that these materials are used to make new plastics, there is no evidence to support that claim. Instead, these materials are burned, creating climate-damaging emissions and air pollution.

The petrochemical industry profits immensely from plastic production; its goal with bills like S-2788 is to make it easier to make and burn as much plastic as possible.

CLF experts are available for further comment.