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  • Press Release

ACC Statement on ProPublica Story about Pyrolysis (Advanced Recycling)

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON (June 20, 2024) — Today, ProPublica published an article questioning the value of advanced recycling. The following statement may be attributed to Ross Eisenberg, president of America’s Plastic Makers®:

“America’s plastic makers envision a future where significantly more used plastics are remade into new plastics, much more of our virgin resources are conserved and displaced by existing resources, and plastic products, like wind-turbines and food-preserving packaging, contribute even more to sustainable living. Advanced recycling is one tool in the toolbox to help us achieve these goals.

“ProPublica’s article on pyrolysis-based advanced recycling unfortunately misses the essential benefit of pyrolysis oil outputs – a barrel of pyrolysis oil generated helps keep a barrel of fossil-derived resources in the ground. 

“Pyrolysis-based advanced recycling, like many other industries, relies on mass balance accounting to substantiate product claims. (More on pyrolysis and mass balance accounting is available here.)

“The biggest constraint plastic makers have today in scaling up advanced recycling is consistently obtaining an appropriate supply of used plastics. This is a fundamental challenge of our decades-old collection and sortation infrastructure. We will continue to advocate for policy to bring the infrastructure and collection systems into the 21st century so more used plastics become new plastics.

“While ProPublica may question the effectiveness of pyrolysis, the billions of dollars plastics makers are investing are real, the products on store shelves, and used in hospitals and e-commerce packaging today are real, and the engineers and scientists working to optimize and expand its capacity are real.”

American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division

The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division represents America’s Plastic MakersSM and the half million+ scientists, engineers, technicians, and other innovators who make plastics for many essential and lifesaving products that are vital to modern life. America’s Plastic Makers continue to embrace change. We’re linking innovation with sustainability, deploying next generation technologies to make plastics lighter, stronger, more efficient and more recyclable, so we can meet our goal for 100% of U.S. plastic packaging to be reused, recycled, or recovered by 2040. We’re making sustainable change to help build a cleaner, safer, more sustainable future for generations to come. 

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.