“Hard-to-recycle” plastics targeted with pilot program

A collection of companies recently partnered with a California city on a three-month pilot project last year that sought to determine the feasibility of effectively collecting more difficult to recycle plastic products.

The program, called the Energy Bag Pilot Program, brought together Dow Chemical, the Flexible Packaging Association, Republic Services, Agilyx, Reynolds Consumer Products and the city of Citrus Heights, California, on a project to divert packaging products such as juice pouches, candy wrappers and plastic dinnerware to a plastics-to-fuel facility where the scrap plastics could be converted into synthetic crude oil for fuel.

pyrolysisplant During the pilot program, which ran from June to August, 2014, about 26,000 households in Citrus Heights were provided with purple bags, which the partners called energy bags. Residents were asked to collect plastic items not currently eligible for the city’s mechanical recycling. The bags were collected during the community’s regular bi-weekly recycling program, sorted at the recycling facility and the plastics in the energy bags were shipped to Agilyx’s plastics-to-energy plant in Oregon, where the scrap plastics was converted into a fuel product.

Agilyx ultimately was pleased with the quality of the material it received through the program, according to a Dow representative. Even the outthrows that were included in the bags were materials that were not damaging to Agilyx’s system, the Dow representative notes.

Agilyx’s thermal pyrolysis technology, which Dow says is complementary to current mechanical recycling programs, allowed the company to convert the collected plastics into high-value synthetic crude oil, which could be further refined into gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, fuel oil, lubricants and plastic.

“We were extremely excited to work with all the partners involved on this first-of-its-kind pilot in the U.S.,” says Greg Jozwiak, North American commercial vice president, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “Through the power of this collaboration, we gained significant knowledge 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.”

Six collections were held during the three-month program. Results included:

nearly 8,000 purple Energy Bags collected;

about 6,000 pounds of typically nonrecycled items diverted from landfills;

512 gallons of synthetic crude oil produced from the conversion;

30 percent citizen participation rate; and

78 percent of citizens said they would be participate if given another chance

“We were very proud to be the first community in America to participate in the Energy Bag initiative,” says Citrus Heights Mayor Sue Frost. “The program demonstrated how communities nationwide can benefit by diverting typically nonrecycled plastics from landfills and give them new life as an energy resource.”

“This is an important milestone toward advancing change in the way we handle waste in the U.S.,” says Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “This pilot proved that resource recovery of nonrecycled plastics is a viable municipal process. Our collaborative efforts brought us one step closer to reducing plastic waste by converting it to energy.”

The article source: http://www.recyclingtoday.com/plastic-recycling-program-fuel.aspx