Whether we like it or not, oil is as economically necessary for our (current) global society as it is a foundation for our fuels … and it’s not getting easier to come by.  Even those claims, however, are often met with controversy – some claiming that oil is running out, others claiming that oil is being hoarded by greedy individuals.  Regardless, our society’s stability is dependent on oil, and – as oil gets trickier to acquire – some “outside the box” thinkers often go back to old maxims.  In this case:  one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Enter:  Plastic 2 Oil, which aims to begin “mining” non-degradable plastics from landfills in order to then convert back into petroleum fuels.

The Plastic 2 Oil project is underway and being conducted by JBI and RockTenn Company. JBI, Inc. is a domestic alternative oil and gas company and has developed a process that converts waste plastic into fuel (Plastic 2 Oil), without the need of further refinement. JBI patented the Plastic 2 Oil technology and has a ten year deal, with a renewal option, to build and operate Plastic 2 Oil processing stations at RockTenn’s facilities.

The process accepts mixed sources of non-recyclable plastic, and focuses on post commercial and industrial sources (since these are most readily available).  The plastic waste is passed through a shredder and granulator and loaded into a hopper with (1800 lbs. at a time) using a forklift.  The “hopped” plastic is then loaded into a processing chamber where it is heated (using its own chemical gasses) and then stored in a gas compression system.  By compressing, storing and then using the gaseous byproduct to run itself, Plastic 2 Oil “pushes” the plastic to acieve “internal recycling”, which boosts overall efficiency.  While inside the reactor, the plastic hydrocarbon chains are “cracked” into shorter chains, which exit the processor as a gas.

JBI’s proprietary catalyst and unique process engineering enables JBI to capture nearly 90% of the hydrocarbon content of plastic, with any remaining residue or non usable substances (about 2%) removed during the normal course of operations.  The remaining gasses contain small amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel, which are then condensed into liquid form and separated before being routed into temporary fuel tanks.  The remaining gaseous “light fractions” – which include methane, ethane, butane and propane – exit the temporary fuel storage tank and are, themselves, compressed and stored for later use.

Each 1800 lb. load of discarded plastic takes less than one hour to process into usable, non-ocean endangering fuel (or, less-ocean endangering, at any rate).

RockTenn, a paper and packaging manufacturer providing a wide range of marketing and packaging products across the American continents, generates thousands of tons of waste plastic every day, which (until recently) the company had been storing in plastics-only landfills for years.  Under a new Agreement with JBI, Plastic 2 Oil will have exclusive “mining rights” to the RockTenn landfills, which should translate to many millions of gallons of fuel.

The costs involved with Plastic 2 Oil’s process have not been publicly released (and may never be), and that may be the only red flag here – since, if the conversion process is hugely expensive than the end product will also be costly.  That said, it’s probably better that these landfills are being put to good use rather than, you know, just left to sit there and fill up some land.

You can take a look at some photos of Plastic 2 Oil’s operations, below, and read through the company’s full press release, as well.

JBI, Inc. Announces a Ten-Year Agreement for Commercially Viable Conversion of Waste Plastic to Fuel

THOROLD, Ontario, Aug. 8, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — JBI, Inc. (OTCQX: JBII.PK – News) is pleased to announce that on July 29, 2011, JBI entered into an agreement with Rock-Tenn Company (RockTenn) to convert mill by-product waste into fuel using JBI’s Plastic2OilTM technology.

Under the agreement, JBI has an exclusive ten-year license with a renewal option to build and operate Plastic2Oil(TM) processors at RockTenn facilities to process RockTenn’s waste plastic at paper mills and Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) and to mine and process plastic from RockTenn’s plastic-filled monofill sites.

RockTenn’s paper mills and MRFs currently produce thousands of tons of plastic per day. To handle the plastic waste stream, RockTenn has been storing this by-product in company-owned plastic-only monofill sites for several years. The agreement gives JBI the exclusive rights to mine plastic from these sites.

JBI’s Founder & CEO John Bordynuik said, “We are honored that RockTenn has chosen JBI to be its long-term partner in this venture and believe this provides further validation that we have a viable commercial process to handle not only the critical issue of waste by-product but also rising energy costs. RockTenn has the industrial relationship and feedstock to support hundreds of Plastic2Oil(TM) processors. We anticipate a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties and intend to expand as quickly as possible. RockTenn currently has sites that can support clusters of processors. In preparation for this agreement, we have designed our processors to be modular ‘plug and play’ to allow rapid deployment across RockTenn’s locations.”

Source | Photos:  Plastic2Oil (08AUG).


Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.