Missouri legislators look to weaken regulations for hazardous waste, advanced recycling, opponents say

Missouri legislators look to weaken regulations for hazardous waste, advanced recycling, opponents say

Lawmakers passed a bill that would ban the enactment of hazardous waste rules that are stricter than federal regulations and allow for advanced recycling facilities to operate without a solid waste permit.

The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill May 14 that would effectively ban the state from enacting hazardous waste rules that are stricter than federal regulations.

The provision, which has been vehemently opposed by environmentalists and supported by business groups in the plastics industry, was previously filibustered by Senate Democrats for hours earlier in the legislative session.

The legislation also would allow for advanced, or chemical, recycling facilities to operate without a solid waste permit. As reported by the Missouri Independent, critics worry the two policies will leave Missourians more vulnerable to being exposed to dangerous chemicals.

“I’m very very disappointed to see this dangerous bill pass at the 11th hour,” Sen. Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur said during the session, according to the Missouri Independent.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Knight of Lebanon sponsored the legislation in the House and lauded the passage of the advanced recycling bill. “Anytime you can reduce regulations to invite some new industries into your state, I think you’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

The chemical industry and business groups say the bill is a solution to the plastic crisis caused by decades of production of single-use plastic products. However, environmentalists say they are “greenwashing” a process that, in practice, primarily serves to create more fossil fuels and can release toxic chemicals.

“This legislation will foster high-quality jobs and increase plastics recycling in the state, a positive step for the state’s economy and environment,” says Wes Robinson, senior director of state affairs for the American Chemistry Council, in a statement.

Michael Berg, a lobbyist for the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club, says the bill “just weakens protections” from a dangerous industry.

“If a company cannot abide by the solid waste disposal requirements, they should not be trusted to set up a facility to do this complicated and potentially very dangerous procedure,” Berg told the Missouri Independent.

The approved legislation is now on its way to Gov. Mike Parson.