In the United States (US), Brightmark Energy LLC (Brightmark), a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, has announced the closing of a US$260 million financing package for the construction of the nation’s first commercial-scale plastics-to-fuel plant, which will be located in Ashley, Indiana. The financing for “Brightmark Energy Ashley Indiana” includes US$185 million in Indiana green bonds, which were underwritten by Goldman Sachs & Co.
As part of the financing closure, Brightmark Energy has become the controlling owner of RES Polyflow LLC, the Ohio-based energy technology company that innovated the process for converting plastics directly into transportation fuel and other products. In November 2018, Brightmark invested US$10 million and acquired a majority interest in the company.
First commercial-scale plastics-to-fuels plant
The Ashley facility will be the first of its kind in the United States (US) to take mixed waste single-use plastics (SUP) and convert them into usable products at commercial scale. The facility will initially convert approximately 100 000 tonnes of plastics into over 18 million (US) gallons (≈ 68.1 million litres) per annum of ultra-low sulphur diesel and naphtha blendstocks and nearly six million gallons (≈ 22.7 million litres) of commercial grade wax in a process that is expected to be 93 percent efficient.
Ultimately, the outputs of this technology could also be used to produce the feedstocks necessary for manufacturing plastic again, thus creating the world’s first truly circular economy technology for plastics.
We are excited about the market’s confidence in the validity of this technology to economically convert single-use plastics for new uses. This technology provides a strong incentive for diverting single-use plastics away from oceans, waterways, communities, and landfills by creating reusable value. Plastic pollution is such a pressing global issue, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to provide a solution, said Bob Powell, CEO of Brightmark Energy and of RES Polyflow.
RES Polyflow’s plastics-to-fuel process sustainably recycles waste that has reached the end of its useful life – including items that cannot readily be recycled, like plastic film, flexible packing, styrofoam and children’s toys – directly into useful products, like fuels and wax.
According to an analysis released in April 2019 by investment company Closed Loop Partners, there is an existing US$120 billion addressable market in North America for plastics and petrochemicals that could be met, in part, by recovering waste plastics like those used as feedstock in the Ashley, Indiana facility. The resources recovered from waste plastics could displace fossil fuels being used in these markets today.
I’m excited to be joining a team that has the experience and capability to further the RES Polyflow technology. The Ashley facility provides the next step in realizing our vision to end plastic pollution, and we look forward to partnering with Brightmark to develop future plastics-to-fuel projects throughout the United States, said Jay Schabel, President of Brightmark Energy’s plastics division BME Renewable Polyfuels and of RES Polyflow.
A total of 136 full time manufacturing jobs will be created in Northeast Indiana when all phases of the facility are operational. As announced in March 2018, BP will purchase the fuels produced by the facility, which will be distributed in the regional petroleum market. The Ashley plant will also produce commercial grade waxes for sale to the industrial wax market, which will be purchased by AM WAX.