Thursday, April 7, 2011

Recycling

Not long ago my son and I busted our asses collecting discarded water bottles to raise money for a school trip.  Our work proved to be fruitless since the recycling company who took in the plastic put little value on our bounty.  Sure we made our little corner of the world a little better but that dime we were offered for all the plastic bottles was disappointing, to say the least.

Going into it I thought we were going to make some decent cash because plastics are broken down, cleaned and turned into other products, such as clothing.  Boy was I mistaken.  But now I learn (via the Houston Chronicle) that an Oregon company is taking any sort of old plastic and converting it into crude oil. 
Indeed, the company, which recently secured $22 million in venture capital funding, is already producing oil from discarded plastic and selling it to a local oil refinery at a competitive price. It says it can process all kinds of plastic, including dirty plastic that was discarded long ago, and that tests show the technology it uses to convert this trash back to oil leaves a “favorable” carbon footprint. (That last claim is one that would need to be investigated further, since it is critical that the process does not produce excessive waste. But the fact that investors have backed the business is a good sign.)
The name of the company is Agilyx.  Time will tell whether they compete for plastic trash with other industries and drive up the price for old water bottles.  It would be nice to see people seek out this stuff the way they do cardboard, aluminum, and metal objects.  For now they'll continue to litter our roadways and parks.

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