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Can Plastic Power, Fuel U.S Economy?

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by - 11/13/2015 2959 Views

Pastic Boosting Economy

According to a report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a BIG time oppurtunity awaits for the growth of U.S economy if an expansion of plastics – to – oil takes place. If it happens, there would be a threefold benefit, firstly a multi-billion dollar economic impact, secondly job creation on a large scale and thirdly prevention of a huge volume of plastic waste from going to landfill.

Inspite of all the technological advances over the recent years in the reclamation of plastics, there remains a portion of the plastic waste stream that cannot be mechanically recycled due to contamination, lack of markets or the inability to separate plastics that can make recovery unfeasible. Much of this non- recycled plastic then becomes landfilled. However, a new generation of conversion technology specifically designed to manage non-recycled plastics has been developed, and commercial scale facilities that use pyrolysis technology to convert plastics into oil and fuel are being established.

The benefits presented by plastics – to – oil technologies are two-fold: transforming plastic scrap into a valuable commodity, and creating a reliable source of alternative energy from an abundant, no-cost feedstock. This paper provides an overview of the newest generation of PTF technologies, explores how this technology can be used to compliment and support the existing mechanical recycling infrastructure for plastics, and discusses the opportunities and barriers that exist to commercializing this technology in the U.S.

Plastic recycling is in a continuous growth process in the United States over the past few decades. Statistics show a total of 2.8 million tonnes of plastics were recycled in 2012. While ACC recognizes reuse & recycling as the preferred method of recovering plastics, yet the organization stress the fact that these are not economically feasible or even possible in every situation.

There are a number of reasons why many plastic scrap and resin products are not recovered and mechanically recycled. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2009 just seven percent of plastic in municipal solid waste stream was recovered for mechanical recycling. Technically speaking, a majority of plastics produced can be mechanically recycled, however the economics of doing so often do not favor the mechanical recycling of contaminated plastics and/or multi-layer plastics. The condition of many plastics at end-of-life can make it economically unfeasible to mechanically recycle them, and in some cases, stable recovery markets for certain resins and products are lacking. However, because the latest generation of pyrolysis technology is designed to accept a wide variety of resin types, can accommodate many forms of contamination and require little pretreatment before being fed into the system, plastics – to – oil technology could present a potential alternative to landfilling non-recycled plastics.

In terms of identified feedstock for these systems, technology manufacturers claimed the following items as optimal sources of scrap material for fuel recovery:

1. Nos. 2 and 4-7 (systems handle No.2 but are not designed to rely on HDPE), other contaminated plastics from MRFs.

2. Contaminated films, rigids and other consumer plastics currently not being recycled

3. Any other rigid plastics headed to the landfill

4. Non-recycled caps, labels and rejects from reclaimers

5. Agricultural plastics

6. Oil bottles

7. Auto shredder residue (ASR) plastics

8. Scrap carpet

9. Engineering grade resins

10. Mixed resin products and thermosets

According to ‘Economic Impact of Plastics-to-Oil Facilities in the US’, the ACC points to the process of pyrolysis as an ‘economical means’ of recovering plastics as they are derived from hydrocarbons and have a high energy content that can be converted to crude oil and fuels, synthetic gas and recycled feedstocks for new plastics. Adopting the conservative assumption that 20% of the non-recycled plastic landfilled each year could be diverted to plastics – to – oil facilities, US could support 350 to 600 of these outlets.

These plants do have the potential to create thousands of jobs for ‘skilled’ workers, resulting in annual direct economic output of between US $ 6.2 billion and US $ 8.9 billion across the entire country and eliminating the landfilling of 6.5 million tonnes of non-recycled plastics each year. In addition to these direct effects, Indirect & payroll induced effects account for an additional output gain of US $ 5.2 billion elsewhere in the economy.

A recent development that demonstrates the growing interest in plastics – to – oil facilities technologies is the latest investment in the Agilyx plastic-to-oil technology. The $22 million investment includes financial support  from Waste Management, the world’s largest waste management firm and Total S.A., a major international oil company. A partnership of this nature is important as it supports the primary benefits that PTF technology offer – a recovery opportunity for non-recycled plastic which, through conversion, creates a valuable resource. An investment of this nature also adds validity to the use of this technology as a tool that the waste management and recycling industry can use to maximize material recovery and value. As Waste Management stated, the technology provides “a viable option for processing contaminated and hard to recycle plastic resins” and create “a high value commodity.” For communities and their waste management partners, PTF technologies offer a double positive.

There is great optimism amongst other technology manufacturer’s that Agilyx’s success will not be unique. Additional investment in this area could lead to installation of the first commercial scale facilities in North America over the next few years. While drivers for investment in these systems vary based on political and environmental conditions, the sustaining factors of success seem to be universal, including ample supply of feedstock and demand for the fuel and oil product. Growing acceptance of this technology amongst the solid waste management community may also aid the movement toward favorable policies for plastics – to – oil facilities and the fuel products which will eliminate some of the current barriers for commercialization. These developments, coupled with the advances made by the latest generation of pyrolytic technology could create a bright future for plastics – to – oil facilities as a recovery opportunity for non-recycled plastics, and offer an enhancement to the existing plastics recycling infrastructure.

Category : Plastic

Tags : Plastic Scrap, Plastic to Oil, Plastic to Oil in India, Plastic to Oil india Price

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About Georgy Abraham

As the bright morning of 28th May dawned in the year 1972, in the fulfillment of time according to the plan & will of Almighty Godbrought me forth into this world and I was brought up & educated in Orissa. My parents provided me with the best of education in an English medium school with high standa .... more info



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