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ProPublica exposes the delusion of “advanced” plastic recycling


On this edition of Your Call's One Planet Series, we're discussing the growing plastic pollution crisis and a ProPublica investigation about a chemical recycling process known as pyrolysis. The world churns out 430 million metric tons of plastic each year.

According to ProPublica, businesses that rely on plastic production, like fossil fuel and chemical companies, have worked since the 1980s to spin the pollution crisis as a failure of waste management — one that can be solved with recycling. Now, the industry is heralding nothing short of a miracle: an “advanced” type of recycling known as pyrolysis — “pyro” means fire and “lysis” means separation. It uses heat to break plastic all the way down to its molecular building blocks.


Lisa Song, investigative reporter with ProPublica


ProPublica: Selling a Mirage

Environmental Health News: Chemical recycling “a dangerous deception” for solving plastic pollution: Report

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.