Louisiana lawmakers approve chemical recycling bill

Louisiana’s state legislature recently passed SB 97, a law that will expand how plastic can be recycled in the state. The bill has been sent to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards for approval.

The bill, approved by the state’s legislature last month, opens the possibility for chemical recycling or advanced recycling, which includes a variety of processes that use heat, pressure and/or solvents to break down plastics. Specifically, the bill allows companies to use pyrolysis, depolymerization, solvolysis or gasification to break down plastics. These plastics would then be used in products like plastic monomers, chemical feedstocks or fuel.

Additionally, the bill addresses how to manage postuse polymers. According to the bill, the storage of postuse polymers can’t exceed a reasonable time frame and must be contained to prevent leaks into the environment.

The bill is backed by the American Chemistry Council and companies like Shell, ExxonMobil and Dow. Supporters of the bill say it solves the shortfalls of mechanical recycling, which is limited to certain types of plastic, according to a report from the Louisiana Illuminator, a nonprofit news organization in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While it has support from the industry, some believe this legislation could hurt the environment. Last year, a report published by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives concluded that chemical recycling technology has not advanced enough to support the claim that it is a real solution to the plastic waste problem.

The bill also exempts chemical recycling facilities from regulations placed on solid waste disposal facilities, which are required to prove they have the funds to properly close facilities and clean up any waste leaked into soil or groundwater.  

To date, 12 other states have adopted similar advanced recycling legislation since 2017, including Arizona, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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