The Alaska House of Representatives voted to relax environmental rules on advanced recycling facilities that use high heat or chemicals to turn plastic garbage into raw materials for new plastic products. The 23-13 vote sends House Bill 143 to the Alaska Senate for further consideration.

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage and the bill’s prime sponsor, said the bill would keep plastic out of state landfills. “Advanced recycling is the key to ending plastic waste and keeping plastic out of the environment,” McKay said. The legislation was supported by the American Chemistry Council, a trade group representing plastics manufacturers. Fewer than 10% of plastic products worldwideare recycled into new products, and advanced facilities are intended to increase that proportion, but environmentalists are concerned about the byproducts of advanced recycling — chemical pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and leftover waste.

For the moment, those issues are hypothetical: Alaska doesn’t have any advanced recycling plants, and none are being publicly planned. Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, said the end result of the bill is to “reduce some regulatory framework on facilities we don’t have.”

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Author: James Brooks, Alaska Beacon, Anchorage Daily News
James Brooks, Alaska Beacon, Anchorage Daily News