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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, January 12, 2020

For the last couple of weeks I have addressed the recycling of plastics, so I decided to see what the recycling of electronics was doing. In doing so, I found an article in the E-Scrap newsletter which provided a nice transition. It involved the recycling of plastics from electronic waste.

"An Indiana plastics processing operation will consume roughly 40 million pounds of plastic from e-scrap and other products annually,” the article said.

The company, Brightmark Energy, is planning to begin its operation in mid-2020, according to the report. In its operation, it will use a variety of plastics, especially items in the mixed plastic categories of Nos. 3-7 stream. Brightmark Energy will be working with RecycleForce, an Indianapolis nonprofit e-scrap organization.

RecycleForce will supply Brightmark with up to 3.4 million pounds per month of ABS, PC and other polymers from TVs, computers, medical devices, car seats and other products.

Brightmark will use a pyrolysis process to convert plastic waste into a few types of fuels or other chemical products, including commercial-grade waxes. As you may know, pyrolysis involves chemically breaking materials down by heating them in an oxygenless environment.”

The plastics, which often come in bales, are de-baled and then shredded, dried and made into small pellets. These pellets, using the pyrolysis system, are converted into ultra-low-sulphur diesel and naphtha blend stocks, which are used in fuel production.

The article explained that construction of the facility, located on a 40-acre site, started in April 2019 after receiving $260 million in funding. It is scheduled to be completed this year in late spring or summer and is expected to be in full operation by the end of the year.

It should be noted that the development of a new domestic e-plastics outlet comes at a time of market turbulence for low-value materials. As you may remember, China, which once took almost all the plastics recovered from electronics, stopped taking them in 2018. Then India, which was another place we sent a lot of the recycling materials, put new restrictions on what it would take.

Thus, both Brightmark and RecycleForce believe this is an opportune time for their operations to start. As a spokesperson for RecycleForce stated, “Right now, I’ve got 10 semi-trucks worth of plastic sitting here ready to ship out to Brightmark’s plant as soon as it’s up and running.”

Let’s hope they are successful as they already have expansion plans if they are.

Because of its social mission, Brightmark was interested in working with RecycleForce as they employ formerly incarcerated individuals, with the aim to reduce recidivism through workforce training and employment — hat’s off to them.

Now a couple of nice one-line items, also from the newsletter, to end this article: 1) Repair hub iFixit published teardown guides for the Mac Pro 2019, giving it a nine out of 10 for repairability, And 2) Electronics buyback company Second Life Mac reports a 300% increase in the number of Apple devices it procured in 2019.

Till next week, do have a great one


Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432.

San Marcos Record

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