Brightmark Energy, a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, broke ground on the US’s first commercial-scale plastics-to-fuel plant in Ashley, Indiana.
The new plant will utilise plastics-to-fuel process that sustainably recycles waste that has reached the end of its useful life – including items that cannot readily be recycled, like plastic film, flexible packing, styrofoam and children’s toys – directly into useful products, like fuels and wax. Ultimately, the outputs of this technology could also be used to produce the feedstocks necessary for manufacturing plastic again, thus creating what is claimed to be the world’s first truly circular economy technology for plastics.
Brightmark Energy CEO Bob Powell welcomed attendees to the groundbreaking and cited the need for paradigm-shifting recycling technologies like the process that will be applied in the new plant. “This sustainable technology directly addresses an acute problem facing our nation: more than 91 percent of the 33 million tons of plastic produced in the U.S. each year is not recycled. These products end up sitting in landfills for thousands of years or littering our communities and waterways. This technology offers a tremendous opportunity to combat a major environmental ill and create positive economic value in the process.”
The Ashley facility is said to be the first of its kind to take mixed waste single-use plastics and convert them into usable products at commercial scale. The facility will convert approximately 100,000 tons of plastics into over 18 million gallons a year of ultra-low sulfur diesel and naphtha blend stocks and nearly six million gallons a year of commercial grade wax each year. BP will purchase the fuels produced by the facility and AM WAX will purchase the wax.
Last month, Brightmark closed a $260 million (Rs 1,816 crore) financing package for the construction of the plant, which includes $185 million (Rs 1,292 crore) in Indiana green bonds. As part of the financing closure, Brightmark became the controlling owner of RES Polyflow, the Ohio-based energy technology company that innovated the process for converting plastics directly into transportation fuel and other products.
Jay Schabel, president of Brightmark Energy’s plastics division, said, “Brightmark plans to develop dozens of additional plastics-to-fuel facilities across the United States, and these new locations will all be anchored by the facility we’re breaking ground on today here in Northeast Indiana. We’re pleased to have this opportunity to offer a solution to the complex problems our nation faces around plastic pollution.”
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