A Japanese inventor has figured out a way to convert plastic grocery bags, bottles and caps back into the petroleum from whence they came, providing a ready fuel source for individual homes that also diverts waste from landfills.
Akinori Ito’s plastic recycling machine heats up waste plastic, traps vapors in a system of pipes and water chambers, and condenses the vapors into crude oil, explains the website Clean Technica. It’s not the first machine to do this — a massive plant outside Washington, D.C., is testing the process, for instance — but it’s small enough for household use.
Ito’s machine turns two pounds of plastic into a quart of oil, using only one kilowatt-hour of energy. The crude oil can be used in some types of generators or it can be further refined into gasoline, Clean Technica reports.
Ito is selling it through his Blest Corp., but buyer beware: As of now, it will set you back about $10,000. Ito hopes the price will drop as demand and production increase.
Other plastic-recycling methods find creative new uses for the material, for instance turning oil booms into new Chevy Volts or building new boats to sail the Pacific. Ito’s invention is interesting because it puts the plastic back into the pipeline, as it were. This is definitely not carbon-neutral — burning the oil releases greenhouse gases — but it’s environmentally friendly in that it can divert non-biodegradable waste from landfills. And make you feel less guilty next time you forget your canvas grocery bags.