Thursday June 30, 2005

Grocery Bags into Oil

I've never much liked plastic grocery bags. At least paper is a renewable resource. Paper is easier to recycle and it breaks down faster if it does go into a landfill. According to the June 25 issue of ScienceNews*, "every year, the United States generates 25 million tons of plastic waste, but only about 1 million tons of it gets recycled." Ugh.

But if your plastic is recycled, maybe it will turn into lubricating oil, improving the fuel efficiency of your future car. (Interesting idea - oil into plastic, plastic into oil.)

Sometime back, Chevron apparently developed a process for converting natural gas into wax and then into high-performance engine oil. But natural gas is expensive (and finite, although they didn't mention that. Of course, so is gasoline.)

Now a Chevron science team has found a way to make the initial wax from polyethylene, "one of the major constituents of plastic waste. It's found in products such as yogurt containers and grocery bags." Something we all throw away.

More challenging than technical issues, says Pete Dinger, director of technology at the American Plastics Council in Arlington, Va., is finding ways to get consumers to divert more of their plastic waste into the recycling pipeline.
That's for sure.

* Science News, Vol. 167, No. 26, June 25, 2005, p. 406.

Grocery Bags into Oil - posted at Thu, 30 Jun, 19:45 Pacific | Comments (0)