Recycling technology converts plastics into fuel

March 13, 2015 0 By Alicia Moore
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A three-month pilot project in California targeted plastics that are hard to recycle.

Last summer, the city of Citrus Heights California took part in a recycling program called the Energy Bag Pilot Program, a project designed to redirect plastic products, such as candy wrappers, juice pouches, and plastic dinnerware that would otherwise end up in landfills, to an alternative energy facility that uses recycling technology to transform these plastics into synthetic crude oil.

Residents used “energy bags” to collect non-recyclable plastics.

The Energy Bag Pilot Program was the result of a collaboration formed by the city of Citrus Heights, California and several companies including Dow Chemical, Republic Services, Flexible Packaging Association, and Agilyx Reynolds Consumer Products. The three-month project ran from June to August 2014 and its purpose was to determine the viability of effectively collecting plastic products that are hard to recycle.

During the pilot program, approximately 26,000 households in Citrus Heights that participated in the project were given purple bags that were known as “energy bags”. These residents collected plastic items that were omitted from the city’s recycling program. These energy bags were collected on a bi-weekly basis and were eventually shipped to Agilyx’s plastic-to-energy facility in Oregon, where the plastics were converted into fuel.

Agilyx’s recycling technology made it possible for the collected plastics to be converted into synthetic crude oil.

The high-valued synthetic crude oil that resulted from Agilyx’s thermal pyrolysis technology can be refined even further and become gasoline, fuel oil, diesel fuel, jet fuel, plastic, and lubricants.

The North American commercial vice president for Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, Greg Jozwiak, said that through the collaboration, significant knowledge was gained “regarding an alternative method that complements plastics recycling and shows that nonrecycled plastic waste can be diverted from landfills, extracted for its embedded energy and put to good use. There is more work to be done to validate this option and Dow is committed to help drive this concept.”

The final report on the Energy Bag revealed that during the three-month program, almost 8,000 purple bags were collected and approximately 6,000 pounds of items that are not typically recycled were kept out of landfills. 30% of citizen’s in the Californian city participated and most (75%) said that they would take part if they had another chance. The conversion produced by the recycling technology was 512 gallons of synthetic crude oil.