Construction workers have broken ground on what is being hailed as the nation’s first commercial-scale plastics-to-fuel plant.
Located in Ashley, Indiana, the new plant will utilize a state-of-the-art 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.
Brightmark Energy, the San Francisco-based waste and energy development company responsible for the plant, say that the outputs of this technology could also be used to produce the feedstocks necessary for manufacturing plastic again, thus creating the world’s first truly circular economy technology for plastics.
As Brightmark CEO Bob Powell welcomed attendees to the ceremony, he 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% of the 33 million tons of plastic produced in the U.S. each year is not recycled,” he said. “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 will 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 6 million gallons a year of commercial grade wax each year.
The 112,000 square-foot-facility is also expected to create a total of 136 full-time manufacturing jobs once it is operational in 2020.
Last month, Brightmark closed a $260 million financing package for the construction of the plant, which includes $185 million in Indiana green bonds.
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,” he added.