The Realities of Chemical Recycling and the Plastic Pollution Crisis

February 28, 2024
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Download our Webinar Highlights fact sheet for key findings and quotes from this webinar.

In the midst of the global plastics pollution crisis, there has been growing interest in so-called “advanced recycling” and “chemical recycling" for plastic. However, these processes pose many concerns. One concern is the large number of toxic chemicals found in recycled plastics. 

More than 13,000 chemicals are used in plastic production, including thousands of plastics additives, as well as substances that are added unintentionally. Thousands of these chemicals are known to have dangerous properties, while the health effects of others are unknown.

A recent study investigated the composition of recycled plastic pellets from 28 small-scale facilities in various countries and found alarming levels of contaminants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and industrial compounds.

Only 1% of plastic chemicals are subject to international regulation, and there are no laws monitoring chemicals in recycled materials. Plastics need to be regulated throughout their lifecycle, which includes curbing of production, use, waste management, and remediation. The study recommends increased transparency, chemical simplification, improved waste management, and monitoring of hazardous chemicals for safer recycling.

In this webinar,  Dr. Eric Carmona, a scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, will discuss a recent study of chemical pollutants found in recycled plastics. Alaska State Representative Andy Josephson will discuss plastics pollution and legislation in Alaska.

Featured Speakers

Dr. Eric Carmona Martinez is a postdoctoral scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, focusing on large-scale monitoring of European rivers and projects analyzing recycled and non-recycled plastics. He holds a degree in Environmental Sciences and a Master’s in Toxicology from the University of Valencia. He completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry in the Food Safety and Environmental Research Group (SAMA-UV) under the Spanish Research Council. He has participated in different projects at national and international levels, such as SOLUTIONS and on the framework of the FRAM center, analyzing the chemicals in recycled plastics. Eric Carmona is a member of the Spanish Society of Chromatography and Related Technics and the Environmental Scientists Association in Spain.

Rep. Andy Josephson was born in Anchorage, AK in 1964. He was elected to the Alaska State House of Representatives in 2012 and represents residents in South Midtown, Taku-Campbell, and East Sand Lake. Andy is a certified school teacher and actively taught in the mid-Kuskokwim region from 1991-1994 in the village of Kalskag. After law school, he was a judicial law clerk to superior court judges in Fairbanks and Kenai. Following that, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in Kotzebue. He entered the private practice of law in 2001 and practiced law in Anchorage from 2001-2012. During portions of that span, Andy taught Constitutional Law at U.A.A. (5 years), and served on the municipal Zoning Board of Examiners and Appeals and the Planning and Zoning Commission. He holds a B.A. in History from Whitman College, and Master of Arts in Teaching from U.A.A., and a Juris Doctorate from Penn State-Dickinson.

This webinar is hosted by the CHE-Alaska Partnership, which is coordinated by Sarah Banapour of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). Driven by a core belief in environmental justice, ACAT empowers communities to eliminate exposure to toxics through collaborative research, shared science, education, organizing, and advocacy.