American Chemistry Council Warns EPA's Proposed Rules Could Stifle Plastics Recycling Innovations

Aug. 21, 2023
Trade group says agency is contradicting its existing definition of waste-to-fuels processing in proposed Significant New Use Rules for pyrolysis oil.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rules to regulate chemicals made from plastic waste-derived feedstocks would add regulatory burdens that could threaten future recycling innovations, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said in a statement released on Aug. 18.

 “As written, the SNUR (Significant New Use Rule) proposal would create an unworkable impediment that could hinder the advancement of innovative technologies to increase this circularity,” said Lee Salamone, senior director of ACC’s plastics division.

On June 15, the EPA issued proposed rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for 18 chemicals made from plastic waste-derived feedstocks that would ensure they are free from unsafe contaminants before they can be used to make transportation fuels.

The proposed SNURs would require additional testing before companies could begin producing the fuels using plastic waste-derived feedstocks.

The EPA said it would test for impurities like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, heavy metals, dioxins, bisphenols and flame retardants. These substances are known to cause cancer and harm the reproductive system, among other health effects, the agency said in a June 15 news release.

ACC asserts the EPA’s proposed rules contradict the agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention, which considers waste-derived plastics to be a chemical manufacturing process rather than incineration, leading to confusion about the proposed regulations.

“Across its offices and programs, as multiple statutory programs and regulations are implemented, it is imperative that EPA have a consistent, cohesive approach to the materials and processes to be regulated. Anything less will add regulatory burden, cost and delays, and impede progress to a circular economy,” Salamone said. “EPA offices must find a path forward expeditiously to remove impediments and begin working together to achieve the Administration’s plastic pollution prevention policy goals.”