Wednesday, September 25, 2019

House Committee Hears From Company Planning To Bring 1,600 Tons/Day Of Municipal Waste To Berks County, Process It, But It Doesn’t Want To Be Regulated As A Waste Facility

On September 24, representatives of ReFined Plastics LLC appeared before the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee asking to be exempt from any regulation under the state Solid Waste Management Act for a planned municipal waste processing facility that would remove plastics from 1,600 tons of waste a day and use the balance of the waste for fuel.
The Committee heard the comments at an informational meeting on House Bill 1808 (Mackenzie-R-Lehigh) that would provide an “advanced recycler” an exemption from being regulated like other municipal waste facilities under the Solid Waste Management Act (sponsor summary)
Joe D’Ascenzo, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer of ReFined Plastics LLC said the company would bring in unsorted municipal waste, process the waste to remove plastics then use an advanced pyrolysis and gasification technology to turn the plastics into “virgin grade” plastic pellets for use as feedstock by other industries.
The balance of the waste would be sorted for other recyclables and the remaining waste converted to fuel to power the facility.
D’Ascenzo said they would bring in about 1,600 tons of waste per day in rail cars or trucks and convert it into 150 tons of plastic pellets to be sold on the open market.  He said the technology they would use to make the pellets is oxygen free and emission free.
The King of Prussia-based company told Cumru Township in August of last year they plan to use the decommissioned former Met-Ed Titus Station power plant at 296 Poplar Neck Road, Birdsboro in Cumru Township near Reading for their plant.
The proposed plant site is adjacent to the Western Berks Landfill that is authorized to take in 1,000 tons per day of municipal waste and borders, for a short distance, the Schuylkill River Trail.
D’Ascenzo said the facility may employ approximately 160 people when the plant is at full capacity.
Since the facility they plan to use is a former power plant, D’Ascenzo said they will  reactivate one of the boilers and use the leftover portion of the waste stream as fuel to generate the energy they need for the process.
They hope to replicate the waste processing/recycling facility at “strategic locations” in other areas of Pennsylvania.
The company said they have been working with DEP officials for 2 years, but they have not acted on their request for a permit because they have no category of permit to put them in.  
D’Ascenzo said that’s when the company decided to pursue a complete exemption from being regulated as a waste facility under the Solid Waste Management Act..
D’Ascenzo said in addition to the exemption from the Solid Waste Act, the state recycling law-- Act 101-- may need to be amended, but did not specify how.
Abby Foster, American Chemistry Council, supported House Bill 1808 saying the bill “will encourage new manufacturing in Pennsylvania by preventing post-use plastics when used to create valuable commodities such as plastic and chemical feedstocks, crude oil, low sulfur transportation fuels and other valuable products from being classified as solid waste.”
Click Here for a copy of the written testimony presented to the Committee.  Click Here to watch a video of the informational meeting (when posted).
[Note: Being exempt from the Solid Waste Management Act means no environmental review of the facility (waste rail and truck hauling operations that do not have to be licensed, no review of the impact of truck traffic on local roads and no processing, storage, litter control requirements), no opportunity for public review by the community, and potentially no bonding if the facility closes without being cleaned up.
[Berks County already has 4 major landfills that take in municipal waste for disposal, more than any other county.  
[For comparison purposes with the proposed 1,600 ton per day ReFined Plastics LLC facility, the Conestoga Landfill in Morgantown is allowed by DEP to take in 5,210 tons per day, the Pioneer Crossing Landfill in Birdsboro is allowed to take in 1,975 tons of waste per day, Rolling Hills Landfill near Boyertown has a limit of 3,200 tons per day, and the Western Berks Landfill in Birdsboro, Berks County is allowed to take in up to 1,000 tons of waste per day.]
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:
(Photo: The proposed site includes the large buildings and cooling tower right along the Schuylkill River.)
Pottstown First In Nation To Pilot Flexible Plastic Recycling [Without An Exemption]

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