×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

JBI's Plastic To Oil Gets Operating Permit

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the 35-miles-per-bottle dept.

Earth 223

Whammy666 writes "JBI, Inc. announced that it has entered into a formal Consent Order with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 9, which will allow the Company to immediately run its Plastic2Oil (P2O) process commercially and begin construction of an additional processor at its Niagara Falls, New York P2O facility. JBI has developed a process that takes waste plastic destined for landfills and converts it into diesel fuel, gasoline, and natural gas with very little residue. The process is said to be very efficient thanks to a special catalyst developed by JBI and an attention to process optimization. That plastic water bottle you tossed in the trash could soon be fueling your car instead of sitting in a landfill for 1000 years."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

223 comments

Someday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571462)

No more trash island.

Re:Someday (4, Insightful)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571618)

Do you mean continent [wikipedia.org]?

BTW, that's what you get when you let fucking sodas define your personality: very little of these bottles are drunk by thirsty people.

Just what we need... (3, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571464)

Hurray, we can turn safely contained pollution on/in the ground into air pollution! Someone managed to rebrand this exercise as environmentally conscious, while all we're doing is burning trash. Hat's off, really.

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571484)

Are you mocking what an idiot might consider sarcasm?

Re:Just what we need... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571744)

well if we're going down this avenue...

is this possibly a concern; that this has become economically viable in contrast to the old method of just ripping it from the ground i.e. is this a sign of peek oil?

Re:Just what we need... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571850)

Any reason why this fuel oil couldn't be converted back into a different plastic? It's been a while since I studied hydrocarbon cracking, but if producing fuel oils is now a two way process, why not?

Re:Just what we need... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571966)

The output is mostly diesel, it also creates propane, methane, and a few other things, that are captured for either further processing, or use in its current state. Apparently JBI has been running a demo unit for a while under a demo permit, and has tankers full of fuel ready for further use. Posting Anonymously, because, well, because its safer that way...

That plastic bottle ... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571972)

... got recycled, because I live in the civilized part of the world.

The only thing going straight to the land-fill is cat litter in a plastic bag.

Maybe you should try it sometime. And don't give that Bullshit-BS. It still recycle resources and maybe your recycling would be more efficient if it happened on a large scale instead of just a few states.

Re:That plastic bottle ... (5, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572524)

Ah, but have you talked to the people who are actually doing your "recycling"? Most of the towns around here contract with a firm in New Hampshire. That firm sells the plastic to the highest bidder, which is as it should be. Trouble is, there are few bidders for it.

Currently, as I understand it, most of the recyclables are going into the previously empty shipping containers making the return trip to China after bringing over all the stuff we import from there. Once it's in China, it can be recycled in methods free of US environmental laws, and the bulk of the plastic is simply burned for fuel because it can be done over there in a land without environmental law.

We're not actually "recycling" a lot of what we recycle. We're saving it from going into a landfill, and we're not polluting air in our close vicinity, so we're calling it good.

I'm not saying it's bad, it's just not quite as good as you might think.

I do it because the recycling company breaks even on it, so it doesn't cost me money like bags of actual garbage do.

Projects like this are cool and uncool at the same time, from an environmental perspective. They are cool because we've found a use for old plastic. They are uncool because they lengthen the time before we find more environmentally-conscious alternatives to both burning shit in our automobiles for propulsion AND encourage the use of disposable plastic bottles under a commonly-held myth that recycling them makes it all better.

Remember the chant of the treehugger. "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". We're putting waaaaayyyy too much emphasis on the last of those, when "recycle" should be the absolute last resort because it's horribly inefficient and only marginally effective at best. Reduce and reuse come first and second in terms of efficiency.

Re:Just what we need... (4, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571984)

You make an invalid assumption that oil==bad.

In modern SULEV cars the air coming out of the exhaust is actually cleaner than the air going in, due to the catalytic converter neutralizing lung-damaging poisons like NOx and CO as the air passes from intake to exhaust. Ditto oil-burning electric plants. I consider that better than letting the solidified oil (plastic) lay in the ground or float in the ocean for a thousand years until bacteria breaks it down.

Converting our waste to oil will also allow us leave a few million tons of crude in the mantle rather than dig it up. The ideal would be to reach a point where we don't need to dig-up any oil, and can just run our society on the accumulated plastics of the last ~100 years, plus solar power.

Re:Just what we need... (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572178)

You have a link to a source explaining that the SUVLEV and oil-burning electric plants exhaust is cleaner than the intake air?

Re:Just what we need... (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572250)

At least one source (marketing, though) claiming that PZEV can emit less than ambient: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/automobiles/low-cost-path-to-low-emissions.html [nytimes.com]

And, there are other sources detailing how to accurately test a PZEV to avoid getting a negative emissions reading.

Re:Just what we need... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572494)

Please note that PZEV is essentially a subset of the SULEV standard.
PZEV is a SULEV car with an extended 150,000-mile warranty on the exhaust control system.

What? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572296)

You mean to say that "go suck on a tailpipe" will cease to be a death-wishing insult?

What is this world coming to?

Re:What? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572538)

You won't be poisoned by a SULEV or diesel car's carbon monoxide (since both are essentially zero), but you will develop lung cancer & heart disease from the particulate matter (carbon ash). So no I don't recommend sucking tailpipes. Makes a good fertilizer for plants though. ;-)

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572112)

We're burning the trash WITH A BENEFIT/USE now, though.

I remember Mendeleev's quote... (4, Informative)

geegel (1587009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571468)

... after studying the chemical composition of oil: "This stuff is way too valuable to simply burn it".

Re:I remember Mendeleev's quote... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571524)

Couldn't find that one

his words about burning oil in stoves being equivalent to burning bank notes in a stove

Though I enjoyed this one more

Why do they [Americans] quarrel, why do they hate Negroes, Indians, even Germans, why do they not have science and poetry commensurate with themselves, why are there so many frauds and so much nonsense? I cannot soon give a solution to these questions ... It was clear that in the United States there was a development not of the best, but of the middle and worst sides of European civilization; the notorious general voting, the tendency to politics... all the same as in Europe. A new dawn is not to be seen on this side of the ocean.

Re:I remember Mendeleev's quote... (2)

geegel (1587009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571614)

I know the quote from my high school organic chemistry teacher.

He's best known for the periodic table, but he was also a pioneer in petro-chemistry.

Re:I remember Mendeleev's quote... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571926)

The full quote is even more badass: "Oil shouldn't be used burned, one can burn paper money just as well".

Re:I remember Mendeleev's quote... (2)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572004)

I prefer burning my plastic Australian currency.

Best of both worlds. :)

Re:I remember Mendeleev's quote... (3, Informative)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572454)

Mine won't burn hot enough to stay alight - is there a process (grinding?) I'm missing, or do I just need a bigger bundle?

frosty fucking piss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571470)

frosty fucking piss

Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571472)

So your average plastic water bottle requires about 1/4 a litre of refined oil products to be produced. How much oil do you get back from this?

Don't get me wrong it's a great solution to what's already in the landfill, but if most people re-used, re-cycled or substituted (wtf do you need to buy bottled water anyway, the stuff runs from every tap in the city), then there would be a much bigger impact. How much energy does the process need? What are the impacts with regard to the catalyst that is used? How hard is it to manufacture the catalyst?

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (4, Insightful)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571538)

From their website, it shows that 1 kilogram of plastic converts roughly to one litre of oil.

So the big question in my book is, how much does 1 kilogram of scrap plastic cost, and how much power is needed to do that conversion.

If we say that one litre of oil is worth ~$1, 1 tonne of plastic is ~$200, and power used for one kilogram conversion is a minuscule 1kilowatt.

You have ~$0.30 in direct costs, but after factoring in the plant, machinery, tankers, etc etc etc, the margins on this process must be hair thin.

OH, thats right, lets not forget the government subsidies!

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (5, Informative)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571604)

power used for one kilogram conversion is a minuscule 1kilowatt.

Power is meaningless here. Energy is what shall be considered. And the physical unit for energy is the Joule (J), or possibly the kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Usually I don't try to explain that anymore, but here it's different, it's Slashdot...

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572528)

...and just to be fully clear...

The difference is the dimensionality of the units..

Energy = Work
Power = Rate at which Work is performed

The GP mentioned "1 kilowatt" which is equal to 1000 Joules per Second, aka 1.34 HorsePower.

In the end, costs are based on the number of Joules used. On your electric bill that is listed in the units Kilowatt Hours, and 1 kWh = 3600000 Joules (3.6 megajoules)

In the movie Back To The Future, they needed a power source that produced 1.21 gigawatts, but no actual timeframe was given for how long this power needed to be sustained.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571610)

And which way are the oil prices headed?

You have to think long term.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572626)

This isn't really long term, it's medium term at best. You need oil to make the disposable plastic bottles in the first place, so the cost of oil is going to roll directly into the cost of the bottles that get disposed to be recycled into a small fraction of the fuel you could have gotten out of the oil if you had turned it into automotive fuel in the first place.

In other words, they are inefficiently reclaiming a small portion of an inefficient use of fossil oil. Good as far as it goes, but as oil prices go up people will start using it in smarter ways and stopgap technologies like this will die off as their cheap source of supplies dry up.

That's not to say this is a bad idea, it's certainly worth reclaiming what we can out of the waste we've made. But it's hardly long term - it still depends on a steady supply of petroleum-based products.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (4, Informative)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571662)

1 tonne of plastic is ~$200

I think you would have to get paid in order to take the plastic - putting plastic in a landfill is not free. So 1 tonne of plastic costs $x to store in a landfill - residue costs $y to store in a landfill - so $x-$y would contribute to your margin.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571748)

Might be why they're locating in Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls has (or at least had) tons of industry because plentiful cheap hydro energy.
Businesses regularly get that cheap hydro at a discount to entice jobs.

Hasn't worked like it used to because the offshore production costs were so much cheaper it eliminated the advantage... but in this case, it might make sense... the main cost for this process is likely to be energy, and it wouldn't work to offshore this industry, I'd think.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1)

awestruk (1667899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571784)

Lets not forget the costs to pay people to sort these plastics, facilitate buildings to store them, and truck them all over each region....

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572218)

...offset by the fact that the plastics in question would be trucked and stored regardless (by a trash-disposal entity being paid to take them).

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572034)

My concern is if you get a net win in energy. If you do, that's great. If you don't, then it should be scrapped like ethanol should be scrapped and not subsidized simply as a feel good program.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572588)

that's only true if a net energy gain is your only goal. there are other secondary goals here, such as simply reducing the amount of garbage that needs to be stuffed into landfills. if you can re-use that garbage for something else, even if there's a cost associated with it, you're helping to meet that secondary goal.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572672)

Even if the energy is break-even, you're converting electricity from a hydro plant where very little manufacturing exists any more into fuel that can be used in cars and trucks. It's still more efficient than battery-based electric cars (which are great, don't get me wrong, but with battery storage losses and range issues, anyone other than a short-haul commuter won't find them very useful).

We can easily convert petroleum into electricity, but this is a way to convert electricity plus garbage into petroleum. It's a stopgap until we can figure out a better way to propel our vehicles than the burning of a limited resource that has so many more valuable uses.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572092)

What is so bad about a subsidy, it does not mean that the subsidy has to remain forever, but if they can do it and get rid of a lot of plastic then hey it might be worth doing, what is better for the next hundred years?? The subsidy is done in the interest of the people/planet so a few people pocket some big dollars along the way,and a unviable energy sourse is run for a while and the world only has 100 billion tonnes of plastic left to recycle before peak plastic.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1)

carvalhao (774969) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572138)

Although I don't put much faith in this process until I have more data, the "government subsidies" is not a good argument, since the oil being worth $1 a litre does not account for all the indirect subsidy of military intervention to insure constant suply.

Drat and bother (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572152)

Ok, having worked in a recycling center doing IT work I would imagine that paper economies and plastic economies are much the same. The way it works is that depending on economic factors they would likely take the plastic for free, or might pay a small dividend for it.

It's really up to their providers to determine the costs of sorting the plastic out. If your already sorting plastic to begin with than it makes sense, if you aren't than the costs of sorting the plastic out of the garbage and transporting it would easily exceed the financial gain from selling your recycles.

The real costs have nothing to do with the supply costs. They are sunk into transportation, sorting (manpower), and machinery. Unless these types of factories sprout up by the thousands, there just isn't going to be a lot of demand to drive up the price - regardless of the cost of a barrel of oil. In this case the costs for getting the material vs disposal are going to be a far higher consideration for most areas than the amount of money to be gained from selling the oil.

A supplier isn't going to spend their own money to send them plastic vs the landfill unless they are already owned by the supplier or live in an area that already strictly dictates the sorting of plastics to begin with. The bottom line is that it has to cheaper for the supplier to send them the plastic than it is for them to get rid of it on their own.

They should be cheered at, not sneered at for being willing to take this kind of financial risk for a low profit margin endeavor. Whether you like government subsidies or not, I would imagine that a plant like this would probably be at least moderately dependent upon them. By all means, it is another form of recycling and we should embrace it and be grateful that another chunk of our garbage isn't going to a landfill.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

tjansen (2845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571788)

"So your average plastic water bottle requires about 1/4 a litre of refined oil products to be produced."

I have no idea of plastic production, but it looks wrong to me: if oil costs about $40 per barrel (159l), 1/4 litre is about $0.05. I can't imaging a plastic bottle costing that much - I can buy a bottle of water in a supermarket for not much more than 5 cent. Am I missing something?

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

tjansen (2845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571800)

Oh, just checked oil prices... $88 per barrel. That means a plastic water bottle's raw material costs over $0.10?

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571900)

Yes you are. The 1/4 litre is refined oil products not raw crude oil. During refining many components in crude are separated and depending on the economics of the refinery various products are made, be it diesel, kerosene, jet, bitumen, extracted impurities such as sulphur, mercaptain, and if there's a chemical plant nearby often propylene and other feedstocks to create plastics through polymerisation. If there's no chemical plant around hydrcarbons like propylene are either minimised or converted to more profitable products.

So while 1/4 litre of refined product is needed to make a bottle, much more crude is needed, however that crude contains other quite valuable products that also generate money, so there never can be a generalised direct link between the price of oil and the price of a finished product as it heavily depends on the economics of the individual refinery.

I work at a refinery which is currently burning propylene and butylene through the flare because the unit which uses that feed is down, and it's cheaper to burn it than to try and sell it to a chemical plant. That doesn't directly affect the price of bottles in the local shops either :)

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (0)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571902)

And god knows why I posted that AC :-/

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (2)

tjansen (2845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572054)

Hmm.. but in that case, the bottle would be made of less valuable components. Which would mean that the demand for the components required for a plastic bottle is lower than the demand for the other components, and thus plastic bottle are merely a by-product. So I wonder, would reducing the number of plastic bottle have any impact on the general oil consumption?

After all, even if there wouldn't be any plastic bottles anymore, the oil would still be needed because of the other components.

Re:Given how much oil it takes to make plastic.... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572172)

They would probably not produce it. The basic materials for plastic are polymerised [wikipedia.org] to form the required plastics. They can tune the equipment to not form the monomeres, but to form more fuel.
The polymer Polyethylene [wikipedia.org] is made of the monomer ethylene [wikipedia.org].To create ethylene you have to crack the light hydrocarbins (an energy intensive task). Most of those hydrocarbins could have been used as fuel themselves.

Note: IANAPC

Landfill? (4, Informative)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571500)

If it ends up in a landfill right now, you're doing something wrong. Some countries (Scandinavia) have recycling quotas >90% already.

Re:Landfill? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571590)

Just for plastics, or everything? If it's the latter, when you consider all the lifecycle energy costs and the solvents etc it's necessary to use, it's actually environmentally harmful to recycle so much. Paper in particular [rkburt.com], despite being one of the most widely advertised recycled goods, would often be better off ending up in an incinerator (with the heat being put to some use or other.)

Re:Landfill? (3, Informative)

PARENA (413947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571694)

I've been living in Finland for a few years now and over here we can recycle separately: plastic bottles, glass bottles, different types of other glass, different types of metal, textiles and plastic bags even. And that's just what you can take to our local shopping centre. At home I can take away separately my bio-trash, paper, cardboard and 'other'. It's a bit more work than just dumping it all together, but I'm willing to do that if the facilities are available.

Re:Landfill? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571840)

Plastic bottles recycled? I guess you mean they have a pawn as in you get money when you return the bottle. But what happens to the plastic bottle after this? It's not recycled like paper.

Many many years ago Finland was "recycling" all plastic. But instead of actually recycling it it was simply dumped or burned.

Recycling plastic in Finland is very minuscule.

Re:Landfill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572536)

Finnish guy here. I used to see these very heavily scratched but sturdy 1.5L plastic bottles. Today, the plastic is thin, soft and clear. They used to wash the stronger bottles, now the new thin bottles are crushed and melted or something. I don't know which is better for the environment. Crushed bottles take less space (trucks) to transport, but melting might take more energy than washing. Washing does require water and detergents and god knows what.

Recycling is wrong... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571790)

Try Germany ... they refill the bottles and use them again. Wow!

Re:Recycling is wrong... (0)

mike260 (224212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571924)

Try Greece. I frequently get into arguments with shopkeepers who insist on putting my purchase in a plastic bag, no matter how hard I try to talk them out of it. Ugh.

Re:Landfill? (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572026)

I like what Germany does (perhaps other European countries too) with drinks, slap a deposit on it and any place that sells it must take it back and refund said deposit. None of this recycling center hodgepodge BS. Most drinks are in glass bottles (which I greatly prefer) although unfortunately plastic bottles have been coming in on personal size more and more.

Oh, and since almost all drinks come in plastic crates (also a deposit and reused) when you buy in quantity, including water, applejuice and Coca-Cola and the like, the customer isn't using plastic bags upon plastic bags getting it home, which is a f-ing hassle if you ask me. There are even services through most of the country that bring crates of whatever you want drink-wise to you, they'll come once a week, once a month, or whatever, take the empty bottles in the crates and exchange them. Like milkmen of lore here.

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaschenpfand [wikipedia.org]
or it translated to English [google.com] (and yes, I realize there is an English wikipedia page on it, but it doesn't cover prices and other details).

Still, glass rules. Clean and no worries about organic chemistry this or that.

I wish they implemented the pfand system here in the states, not just with water bottles, but with CFLs and fluorescent lights, electronics, batteries and other things - things THAT SHOULD NOT BE THROWN AWAY in the trash, but people rarely do otherwise because it's either an inconvenience or expensive to do it properly. Often, it's expensive to do it properly because it's not done on a massive scale (for instance, it costs me more to recycle my fluorescent tubes than it is to buy them - that ain't right).

Walmart does this with car batteries, charging something like $8 and gives it back when you bring you're old one in. But I don't know if that is voluntary on Walmart's behalf, and limited to my state or other states -- but it's a good system.

Re:Landfill? (4, Informative)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572324)

Walmart does this with car batteries, charging something like $8 and gives it back when you bring you're old one in. But I don't know if that is voluntary on Walmart's behalf, and limited to my state or other states -- but it's a good system.

Every place that sells car batteries does that, it's called a core fee. Most auto parts that can be re-manufactured have it.

Re:Landfill? (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572354)

For what it's worth, Michigan does exactly what you describe [michigan.gov] (link is to PDF), at least with bottles and cans. I don't know why other states with deposits don't do the same, or for that matter why so few states have deposits.

Re:Landfill? (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572708)

I like what Germany does (perhaps other European countries too) with drinks, slap a deposit on it and any place that sells it must take it back and refund said deposit.

America does that for many drinks, and not just ones that come in plastic bottles. Glass and Aluminum are also targeted.

We did not enact this for the recycling benefits .. we enacted it to stop the bulk of non-biodegradable littering.

Re:Landfill? (0)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572068)

The UK has recycling, for everything from paper to plastic to car batteries.

News reports revealed recently that what mostly happens to that stuff is that we cherry-pick the obviously easily recyclable stuff (e.g. the lead, the simple plastics, the clean paper) and send the rest (95% or more) off to India and China who will happily sign off that they were "recycle" it, only for the stuff to end up on landfill. Same with WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) regulations - you basically pay someone to drop it off at Heathrow where's it's shipped to a 3rd world country who are happy to charge to pollute their own country so long as they get regular money. I used to hire a guy who had a government-authorised WEEE certificate that I had to check every time he visited - so long as we threw in a bunch of copper cables, he'd take anything. He got paid by the people to collect the gear, paid £1 a monitor by a guy at Heathrow and neither would cover his transport of heavy IT gear to Heathrow from a local business - but the copper in the cables meant that he made a living by stripping off the plastic and melting down the copper. The monitors were shipped abroad (by a guy paying £1 per monitor because some government could subsidise his "recycling" business) - all with proper paperwork - and invariably ended up in landfill abroad.

Just saying "it's gone into the recycling bin" doesn't mean it was ever recycled. Or that it could ever be recycled *sensibly* (i.e. does a hot wash that's required to sterilise old food containers actually cost more to occur than recycling would ever save? Does the collection costs for THREE separate bins - usually by three separate trucks and three separate workforces in the UK - outweigh the advantages gained? Does the product have a nature that it *can* be recycled without expending more energy than it would save to recycle?)

Don't fall for the greenie line - most waste still ends up in landfill, but nowadays after incredibly expensive transport to countries that JUST DON'T CARE, and that stuff that doesn't actually probably costs MORE to recycle than the sum total damage it would do to just landfill it. To recycle plastic you usually have to grind it and melt it - already you're into significantly more energy expense than the plastic took to be put into a landfill - how much energy do you need to melt a tonne of plastic?

*Some* recycling works, but it's a TINY proportion and really not even made up for by the damage that just having another bin, or someone transporting it to a recycling centre, costs.

Re:Landfill? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572676)

I dont understand this aversion to landfills.

At the rate trash is produced, we have more than enough land to bury it.

My recycling beliefs are such that anything that can be recycled for a profit will be recycled by the free market, without my help, and the stuff that can't be recycled for a profit shouldn't be recycled.

Recycling stuff just for the sake of recycling is stupid. Recycling stuff that can be profitably recycled in smart.

I mean think about it.. suppose its the 1960's and you figured that at some point in the future that it would be smart is recycle plastic. Would you support wasting money on stupidly recycling it with 1960's technology or would you be for storing it someplace (like a landfill) until technology caught up?

We are approaching the point where recycling plastic is Smart, and when it becomes Really Smart then landfills will start being dug up (especially older ones, where all the biodegradable stuff is gone) just for the profit potential (plastics, metals...)

global resource corp's microwaves seem cooler (5, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571522)

I've been watching GRC [globalresourcecorp.com] for a while now... Last I heard their prototype microwave was functional, and they were taking orders. The prototype uses a vacuum chamber: fill the chamber with used tires, apply vacuum, turn on the microwave, and *poof*, out comes the hydrocarbons.

Every 20lb tire [globalresourcecorp.com] yields a gallon of diesel fuel, ~50 cubic feet of "propane" (butane and... something else), recyclable steel, and carbon black. Haven't seen anything recently, just a new patent for using microwaves to desalinate seawater...

This thing looks useful too - there's a ton of plastic warehoused in the world's garbage dumps, and it won't be long until they start getting mined.

Re:global resource corp's microwaves seem cooler (1)

StewBaby2005 (883886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572374)

'carbon black' sounds interesting. Could that be used for Ink jet refills?

Floating plastic in the ocean (2, Insightful)

scsirob (246572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571552)

I remember reading about a huge amount of plastic floating in the ocean. Since it was just garbage no-one seemed interested in cleaning that up.

Now this plastic has become a valuable supply for producing oil, I'm sure some entrepreneur will stand up and collect it for a profit!

Re:Floating plastic in the ocean (5, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571680)

No yet, I think. The "garbage patch" is a huge area of the ocean which consists of a mixture of plastic particles and sea water. Getting the plastic out of that corrosive sea water, in an inaccessible location - that's going to be a lot more expensive than recycling plastic which would otherwise be transported to a landfill. You'd probably start mining closed landfills first before you'd consider the garbage patch.

Re:Floating plastic in the ocean (3, Informative)

Lispy (136512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571702)

Your view on the world is criminally simplistic. The great pacific garbage patch is several thousands of miles away from the west coast of the US. Furthermore this stuff is highly fragmented into tiny pieces. Processing this would be really painful. Even if youd set up your plant right there floating in the ocean transportation would hardly justify the cost of harvesting. I really wish you would have a point but I dont see this happening for a long time. If you compare this to the gulf of mexcio where you can easily drill for oil in your backyard there is no way this would work. Its sad put this probably isnt a solution. The big benefit for this technology could be that we just stop dumping our trash into the ocean in the first place. But for whats there already we might have to come up with something else. Like somebody said in this thread: Just dont buy bottled water and try to avoid plastics if you can find a reasonable alternative. Its actually pretty hard, I have been trying to do this for the last year and often theres just no option: e.g. keyboards, toothbrushes, tupperware and so on...

Re:Floating plastic in the ocean (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571864)

But there is a difference between long life objects such as toothbrushes and keyboards such as keyboards and toothbrushes, which have a life of three months to indefinite, and single-use stuff such as water bottles, food trays, wrapping and padding. If you uses it for at least three months, the cost is spread so thin that I wouldn't worry. Conversely, if it is only used for the 30 minutes from supermarket to home, you should really be using an alternative.

Being the season that it is, one thing I find marginal is children's toys. Once they have been opened, the children seem to be surrounded by a sea of plastic. Nominally they are long life items, but they have so darned many of the things that I bet many of them get only a few minutes of play before being put away, eventually to be dumped.

Re:Floating plastic in the ocean (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572190)

Craigslist is the ultimate recycler for things like toys. I have kids. I buy maybe 5 toys a year at retail, mostly impulse buys. My kids have hundreds small and large.

Re:Floating plastic in the ocean (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572716)

I'll also put in a plug for Freecycle, if you have a local site. There's lots of good stuff on there.

Re:Floating plastic in the ocean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572166)

Interesting, but I think the density of the garbage is pretty low - like one every 10 square meters or so. Hard to collect. Plus, it isn't all plastic.

Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571576)

That plastic water bottle you tossed in the trash could soon be fueling your car instead of sitting in a landfill for 1000 years."

So this means that yet more sequestered carbon dioxide will be pumped into the atmosphere? If that's the case then... Wonderful! It's exactly what we need.

Blasphemy! (3, Funny)

Jhyrryl (208418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571594)

The Earth wants plastic for itself, and created us to make it! (Thank you, George Carlin.)

Way to catch the previous train here (1, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571596)

So this guy has a process that takes plastic and turns it into oil to power cars. Great...

Well guess what: the new trend is electric, or hybrid-electric cars. Their main fuel is electricity, and there's already a very efficient way to turn waste plastic into electricity, by burning it to fuel a power plant (with the proper filters at the smokestacks to avoid polluting and all). Even accounting for the loses in transportation, battery storage and reuse in electric motors, I bet the plastic-powered electric car is way more efficient than the plastic-gasoline powered ICE car.

So yes, the market for plastic diesel is huge today, but it'll only go down over the years, as oil prices rise and people buy more electric vehicles. In short, I'm not investing.

Re:Way to catch the previous train here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572656)

Hate to disappoint you but the trend toward hybrid and electric has a long way to go. There is not enough efficiency in the battery technology that we currently are utilizing. You must also take into account the long range driving people in the US do. Let me give you an example In Texas for me to drive to Dallas From Houston is 285 miles (roughly) I have yet to see a battery operated car " In Production" that can travel long distances at speeds of 70+ mph. Hybrids are not nearly as efficient as you may think take a look at the raw data from sources like Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver etc. And you will never get Americans to loose their sports cars, trucks and luxury vehicles. Especially in the South where the car is king and trucks are necessary. So you will wait maybe 10- 15 years before we can get an electric vehicle to perform like a Porsche and get distance needed for long trips, since we have no rail infrastructure and flying 300 -500 miles costs too much.

El Che

plastic garbage vortex (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34571632)

next step: retrieve the great pacific garbage patch [wikipedia.org].

.~.

meh (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571716)

The density of same isn't really high enough to make this feasible as I understand it (Can't remember the details exactly)

Allow me to translate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572216)

"I took the time to say you are wrong but I'm far to busy to look up factual evidence."

Panorama Chemicals (1)

dugeen (1224138) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571696)

They have clearly been watching the Doctor Who story 'The Green Death' (1973) and decided to reverse the oil-to-sludge process described therein.

Why is this a better solution (2)

Tar-Alcarin (1325441) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571730)

Why is JBIs solution supposed to be a better alternative than the UN sponsored machine made by Blest (founded by Akinori Ito)?
IIRC, /. reported on this earlier this year, but no-one mentions a comparison between these solutions.

Check out the article [unu.edu] and the video [youtube.com] about Blests "plastic to oil" solution.

From what I can see, two of Blests major advantages, is that the equipment is so small that it's portable, and that it requires no chemical additives to do its thing.
That's going to be a huge factor when it comes to introducing this to the developing countries, which we most definitely will need to do in the long run.

Plastic mining (2)

Pflipp (130638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571734)

Quick! Start buying up landfills!

Plastic mining is the way of the future.

Re:Plastic mining (2)

Tar-Alcarin (1325441) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571760)

I get the sense that you're being sarcastic here, but I honestly believe you're on to something.

After all, it is getting more and more expensive (both in terms of money and energy) to retrieve crude oil. Once the energy cost of producing a barrel of oil exceeds the energy we can retrieve from it, there is going to be a huge market for alternative sources for oil.
If the cost of recycling plastics back into oil becomes lower than pumping up new oil, this becomes a viable alternative.

Re:Plastic mining (1)

connect4 (209782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571786)

Once the energy cost of producing a barrel of oil gets anywhere near the energy we can retrieve from it, game over

Re:Plastic mining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572478)

Hooray! The USA can be energy independent! If there's one resource we can dominate production of, it's plastic landfills!

Back to the Future? (0)

awestruk (1667899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571792)

I recall Doc putting some sort of plastic bottle into DeLorean for energy. Science Fiction writers always seems to be shockingly more accurate in future predictions than any academic I've come across...

Re:Back to the Future? (2)

mike260 (224212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34571982)

IIRC, he put the bottle into a fusion-reactor along with some banana-peels, then the car flew away. You might be cherry-picking your facts a little here...

OT: What is going on here? (0)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572192)

Why is everyone's post starting at score 2, but mine are starting at score 1? No wonder no one takes them serious...

Re:OT: What is going on here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572496)

Karma 's a bitch...

Not a sustainable practice (2)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34572206)

The point is, we can't keep burning fossil fuels at the rate we have been for the last 110 years.  The Carbon, Methane and other environmentally detrimental byproducts released when fossil fuels burn is a bigger problem than running out of oil. 

Plastics collection.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572510)

"That plastic water bottle you tossed in the trash could soon be fueling your car instead of sitting in a landfill for 1000 years."

Please explain how they will be doing the trash separation? ?

If they are going to rely on consumer separation, they have failed.

Here is my trash... if you want the recyclable material from it, have fun, dig through it, but *I* am not doing it for you.

This is the problem all these plans suffer from, they expect that Jane Consumer is going to do part of the work to separate them out... WRONG!

Only the treehuggers will, and thats a very MINOR amount of the population.

You want to recycle, great, heres my trash, recycle it all you want.

Isn't this all the wrong way round? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572540)

It seems like it would be a stupid move to turn plastic (i.e. 'captured carbon') into polluting CO2, rather than investing in machines to turn CO2 pollution into useful plastic. Am I missing something here or did we not just burn our way through 100 million years worth of forest that we now need to start capturing back again?

sounds rather sketchy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34572618)

The Curriculum Vitae of the founder John Bordynuik Inc. (JBI) [jbiglobal.com] seems a bit flimsy.
Computer nerd turned physical chemist?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...