New NRDC 'Chemical Recycling' Analysis: Process is Harmful, Misleading, Not Solving Plastic Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. ​— A new NRDC analysis found that the majority of “chemical recycling” facilities studied are not recycling any plastic, but are instead creating fuels and releasing hazardous pollutants into communities and the environment. The analysis found that Agilyx, an Oregon-based processing plant lauded as the gold standard of “chemical recycling”, has produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic waste in a single year that was sent to incineration. The majority of these facilities are located in and affect communities that are disproportionately people of color, low income, or both–resulting in significant environmental justice concerns. 

“Chemical recycling,” also known as advanced recycling, molecular recycling, and chemical conversion, is the process of producing fuel or chemical components from plastic waste. It does not qualify as recycling by international standards, but is being touted by the chemical industry as a solution to the plastic waste crisis.

The following statements are from NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) advocates:

“Not only are ‘chemical recycling’ facilities failing at safely and effectively recycling plastic waste;  they’re releasing harmful pollutants into vulnerable communities and the environment. And the toxic trail doesn’t end there--further pollution and health harm comes from burning the dirty fuels created in the process.” - Veena Singla, Senior Scientist and Author of the issue brief, NRDC

“‘Chemical recycling’ is just a greenwashing term for burning plastic and not a solution to our plastic waste problem—no matter how the chemical industry tries to spin it. The Biden administration and Congress should reject plastic makers’ efforts to classify turning plastic into fuel as a legitimate form of recycling.” - Daniel Rosenberg, Director, Federal Toxics Policy, NRDC

For more information on the analysis, read the newly published NRDC blog “Chemical Recycling” of Plastic: A Burning Issue.

Additional Resources:

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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