Connect with us


RI House weighs outlawing pyrolysis and high heat waste processing

“This process runs against everything we are trying to do in our state to preserve our environment for our children and preserve its appeal for ourselves, our tourism and our seasonal residents,” said Representative Justine Caldwell.



House bill 5923, which would “prohibit new high-heat waste processing facilities” was the only bill heard at Thursday’s House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources, but it still took nearly two hours to get through all the testimony in favor of the bill, and it should be stated, ALL the testimony was in favor of this bill except for the written submissions from the American Chemistry Council, a pro-plastics industry lobbying group.

Here’s the video of the committee hearing:

“We absolutely do not want Rhode Island to become a destination for these types of waste facilities,” said Representative Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich), who introduced the bill. “High heat processing is just burning waste, regardless of the number of steps you have in the process, it’s just burning waste. Regardless of what word you use to substitute for burning, it’s burning waste. Regardless of whether you use oxygen, it’s burning waste. It is not green and it does not generate anything renewable. Even currently, under Rhode Island law, these processes are not and cannot be renewable.”

Caldwell noted that allowing these kinds of facilities to operate in Rhode Island runs against the spirit of the recently passed 2021 Act on Climate bill that sets enforceable goals on lowering emissions in the state.

“This process runs against everything we are trying to do in our state to preserve our environment for our children and preserve its appeal for ourselves, our tourism and our seasonal residents,” continued Representative Caldwell.

Representative Patricia Serpa (Democrat, District 27, West Warwick), who has co-sponsored the bill, tied it directly to the proposed MedRecycler plant that is currently undergoing a process of approval with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

“A comprehensive ban on these types of facilities is essential to protect public health, to protect our environment and to protect our climate,” said Kevin Budris from CLF. “Whether you call it incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, advanced recycling – burning waste is toxic. Every single one of the processes releases climate damaging pollutants like carbon dioxide, along with lead, mercury, dioxins, sulphur dioxides – to name just a few.

“Pyrolysis… isn’t the solution for the plastics problem. The only way to stem the lifecycle of pollution that comes with plastics is to look upstream and stop single use plastic production at its source,” said Budris. “The City of Providence has already taken action and has banned all high heat waster facilities and it’s time for the state to follow suit.”

Here are the links to all the written testimony submitted to the committee in favor of the bill:

Here’s a link to the one testimony opposed to the bill:

Articles about the proposed Medrecyler facility:

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

Can you help us?

Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.

Become a Patron!
Opens in a new tab - you won't lose you place