By State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh)
Plastic waste is an environmental issue around the globe and finding solutions to the growing problem should be of greater priority.
In Pennsylvania, tons of plastic waste are removed from the state’s waterways annually, and although the volume of plastic waste has been reduced, far too much of it is still ending up in landfills due to waste management systems that are overwhelmed. But after spending millions of taxpayer dollars on trying to create an efficient recycling model, Pennsylvania is now looking at an up-and-coming renewable technology, called advanced recycling.
Advanced recycling technologies turn used solid plastic into its gas or liquid raw materials to be remade into brand new plastic for reuse. This process has the potential to revolutionize the way waste is managed in Pennsylvania and across the country. Advanced recycling can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, recover valuable resources, and create jobs.
Advanced recycling legislation I sponsored in 2020 became law with strong bipartisan support. It authorized technologies considered advanced recycling to be regulated as manufacturers and prohibited their products from being misclassified as solid waste. The Solid Waste Management Act, or Act 127, allows Pennsylvania companies to convert plastic waste into raw materials used to make food containers and wraps, or even certain medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
Studies have shown that advanced recycling has the capacity to recycle about half of all global plastic packaging by 2040 while producing even less greenhouse gas emissions than alternative methods to handling the same used plastics. With the demand for plastics expected to increase rapidly in the future, advanced recycling also offers Pennsylvania the chance to bolster its economy and add high-paying, sustainable jobs.
However, to allow advanced recycling to meet its full potential, a serious commitment from the Biden administration is needed to promote domestic plastic waste reduction. With proper support from the federal government, we can quickly make way for advanced recycling and create a cleaner and more prosperous Pennsylvania.
Information provided to TVL by:
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
Pennsylvania House of Representatives