Alaska House approves loosening of environmental regulations for ‘advanced recycling’

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The Alaska House of Representatives voted Friday to ease environmental regulations. Advanced recycling facility Something that uses high temperatures or chemicals to turn plastic waste into raw material for new plastic products.

23-13 vote result House Bill 143 Submits to Alaska Senate for further consideration.

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, the bill’s main sponsor, said the bill would keep plastic from entering the state’s landfills.

“Advanced recycling is the key to eliminating plastic waste and eliminating plastic from the environment,” Mr McKay said.

This bill was supported by American Chemistry Councilan industry association representing plastic manufacturers. Less than 10% of the world’s plastic products is recycled into new products, and advanced facilities aim to increase that share, but environmentalists are concerned about the chemical pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and residual waste that are the byproducts of advanced recycling. doing.

At this point, these questions are only hypothetical. There are no advanced recycling plants in Alaska, nor are there any publicly planned ones.

Rep. Will Stapp (R-Fairbanks) said the end result of the bill would “reduce some of the regulatory framework for facilities that we don’t have.”

“Even if this bill were passed today…we may never see a single one of these facilities in the state,” he said.

In a letter supporting the bill, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce said that by March 2023, 22 other states have enacted legislation with legislative support for advanced recycling centers.

Virginia passes Advanced Recycling Bill of 2021 As part of a compromise that saw environmentalists successfully ban foam food containers.missouri passed Advanced recycling bill in 2022Indiana became the 24th state to pass a bill with legislative support. It was the same last year too..

Some lawmakers, including Rep. Donna Mears (D-Anchorage), were skeptical of supporters’ claims.

“This bill may be good for the American Chemistry Council, but it’s bad for Alaska,” she said.

Mr. Mears worked as an environmental engineer outside of Congress and had been employed in Anchorage for many years. As a recycling expert.

She tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill before it was finally passed, prompting lawmakers to vote against it when the amendment failed. She noted that the bill would classify advanced recycling plants as manufacturers rather than waste facilities, meaning they would be subject to lower environmental standards.

last week, Maine voted to go in the opposite direction of Alaska’s bill. When Congress there decided to regulate advanced recycling facilities under the same rules as solid waste. These facilities will also be required to post a bond to pay for long-term cleaning costs.

Rep. Genevieve Mina, an Anchorage Democrat and another opponent, said advanced recycling facilities use “a lot of energy” and that, amid energy shortages in south-central Alaska, “there are no sensible options we can pursue.” There are many policies,” he said.

final vote Most were in line with caucus lines, with 22 House majority members and Rep. Dan Ortiz, R-Ketchikan, of the minority caucus voting in favor. Voting against the bill were 12 minority House members and Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla), who is not a member of the caucus.

Rep. Jenny Armstrong (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Ruddy Shaw (R-Anchorage) were exempt and did not vote. Rep. Alyse Galvin (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Sarah Hannan (D-Juneau) were absent.

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