Oil is everywhere, especially in the plastics that have (literally) molded American society. But what if we could recapture the oil used in plastic and re-use it as fuel? That is what Greenstar Recycling and Vadxx Energy are attempting to do.
While we often consider motor vehicles to be the vessels of oil consumption, every plastic product on the planet is also made using petro-chemicals, from your milk jug to your credit card. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of plastic containers, toys, and even clothes end up in some landfill somewhere, and we’re basically throwing away energy. Enter Houston-based Greenstar Recycling and Cleveland-based Vadxx Energy.
Using a process called depolymerization, which essentially mimics the geological processes that create crude oil in the first place, discarded plastics can be broken down and turned into light crude oil and natural gas. This is what Vadxx does. Greenstar Recycling, which handles over 2 million tons of recyclables every year, will be providing Vadxx with the plastics it needs to produce more and more of this recycled plastic oil. That means less wasted plastic energy in landfills. They hope to have a plant set up by 2012, producing commercial quantities of this synthetic crude.
As we are mostly aware, plastic is not biodegradable, and many landfills are at or nearing capacity across the country. If this process can streamlined and made profitable, we’d be able to reduce the garbage in landfills while simultaneously reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Yes, it is still oil…but you tell me what is worse, recycling energy, or just throwing it away? Anything that keeps toxic garbage out of landfills is alright by me, and there is the potential for thousands of jobs here as well, and this country could do with more jobs, and less garbage.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.