As state legislative fights over chemical recycling pick up around the country, new polling from the American Chemistry Council suggests strong public support among voters in the key battleground of New York.
Ahead of an industry push to pass legislation in the Empire State, ACC released a public opinion poll of 1,000 registered voters on April 27 that said 80 percent back laws to make it easier to build chemical recycling plants in the state.
"This poll … makes clear advanced recycling has massive political support from voters all across New York," said Joshua Baca, ACC's vice president of plastics, using the term for chemical recycling favored by some in the industry.
However, environmental groups that oppose it questioned the poll, and one predicted the industry-backed legislation will not be able to pass in New York before lawmakers adjourn in early June.
"Had the American Chemistry Council worded their question accurately, we believe they would have gotten very different results," said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and a former regional administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency. "The plastics industry is attempting to mislead the public again with claims about the promise of 'chemical recycling' or 'advanced recycling' as a viable way to deal with plastics."
There's some evidence in the poll that points to public skepticism in line with the environmental groups, including concerns around economic viability and pollution. But ACC says the detailed poll results point to support being stronger than opposition in voters' minds.
The ACC poll comes as New York, New Jersey and several New England states are considering legislation that would change laws to regulate chemical recycling as manufacturing plants, rather than as solid waste operations. Eighteen states around the country have passed similar laws, including four this year.
The poll, conducted April 8-18 by Public Opinion Strategies, found that 79 percent of respondents favored advanced recycling and 21 percent opposed, after arguments on both sides were presented.