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Legal Action Against Advanced Recycling Company Is Dismissed

A legal action targeting the construction of an advanced recycling facility in Point Township, PA, by the Clean Air Council (CAC) has been dismissed by Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board (EHB). The special interest group sought to delay the state’s permitting process, which could have affected plans by advanced recycling company Encina to build a circular manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. “This attempt is not new and groups like [the CAC] are combining legal action with public misinformation and fear campaigns,” Encina told PlasticsToday.

Pennsylvania is one of 21 existing US states that has enacted advanced recycling legislation, said Encina. The CAC fought against it at the legislative and gubernatorial level in Pennsylvania. It lost those fights, and has now lost at the EHB level, as well, added Encina.

In its appeal, the CAC claimed that a letter sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to Encina constituted a “final agency action.” This denotes an action that affects any party’s personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties, liabilities, or obligations, for which there is a right to appeal. The EHB found that the letter to Encina, in fact, did not affect any of those things, so there was no basis for a right to appeal, and the case was dismissed.

Encina said it is pleased with the EHB’s decision, which was the first relating to advanced recycling activities encouraged by legislation passed by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and former Governor Tom Wolf in 2020. The legislation was in the form of amendments to the Solid Waste Management Act that served to clarify that advanced recycling was a form of manufacturing and not appropriately characterized as solid waste processing, according to Encina.

In a related development, the DEP said this week that it noted several flaws in the permit application for the plant, as reported by Newsradio WKOK 1070. Some of the flaws were minor, involving such things as labeling, for example, but some major flaws were also discovered, according to the radio station. Encina told WKOK that requests for additional information are very common between permitting applicants and the DEP, and that it will continue to provide the DEP with the information it requires.

Construction of the plant is expected to start in early 2024.

Encina’s proprietary technology uses a catalytic process to extract BTX/P — benzene, toluene, and p-xylene — from plastic waste, refine it, and provide it to customers as ASTM-grade and ISCC+ certified circular chemicals for the manufacture of new products.

“We are working passionately to help solve the plastic waste crisis and we have a viable, proven technology to do so,” Encina told PlasticsToday. “We are doing as much as we can to correct the record and educate the public about the advantage of advanced recycling and demystify the process. While it may seem that groups like [the CAC] are protecting the public, the reality is that they are only exacerbating the global plastic waste problem.”

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