Last year, at the behest of the American Chemistry Council trade association, New Hampshire became the only state in New England to classify so-called “advanced recycling” facilities for plastics as manufacturing operations, rather than as more tightly regulated solid waste management operations. But a start-up seeking to turn plastic into a replacement for diesel fuel is having problems with the process and has run up against state environmental concerns, reports Energy News Network.
“Advanced recycling” is an umbrella term that refers to a range of technologies that employ chemicals to convert plastic into its molecular building blocks. Pyrolysis and gasification use high temperatures and low-oxygen conditions to produce an oil or gas that can be refined into fuels. Solvents and chemicals are also used to dissolve plastic waste and process them into new plastics.
Many environmentalists say the process produces too many toxins to be safe and is basically a form of “greenwashing” so that the petroleum industry can continue producing plastic, just as well-publicized efforts for regular recycling have hidden the fact that more than 90% of all plastic in the U.S. ends up as trash or is burned – not recycled.