The Benefits of Plastic
There’s a reason that plastic became so pervasive in just about every industry you can think of. Plastics are lightweight and durable, and they replace materials like metal and wood, which have their own disadvantages, for a variety of building and shipping applications. Below are just a few examples of how plastics are currently used:
- Packaging: Plastic is lightweight, so when it’s used to package food, beverages, chemical solutions and more, it can help save fuel and decrease emissions during transport.
- Vehicle Components: Plastic is used for a variety of vehicle parts to make them safer and lighter, which translates to better fuel economy.
- Piping: Plastic piping is used for everything from residential plumbing to municipal sewage systems to help safely transport potable water and remove the issue of heavy metals.
- Healthcare: Plastic is easy to keep sterile and is often used for one-time-use tools to make healthcare facilities even safer for patients, practitioners and staff.
- Affordable Solutions: Plastic is a quick and affordable way to get clean, safe water to communities in need.
- Security: Plastic can be used in place of glass for applications like storefront windows, clear dividers in public transport vehicles and more.
- Renewable Energy: Plastic is used to make solar panels, wind turbine parts and many other components for renewable energy solutions.
The Drawbacks of Plastic
Plastic is undoubtedly a versatile material. The problem is that we have a hard time figuring out what to do with it once its job is done. Below is a list of some of the biggest disadvantages of plastic:
- Plastics do not easily degrade. This is a good feature while they’re in use, but it becomes problematic when they don’t start to break down for hundreds (or even thousands) of years after they’re thrown away.
- Plastics come in many different types, like polycarbonate, PVC and polypropylene. Not all of these varieties can be recycled, making the recycling process challenging and, in many cases, not economically viable.
- Single-use plastics take up a significant amount of room in landfills and create massive patches of garbage in our oceans.
- Animals often mistake plastic items for food and eat them, which leads them to becoming sick and dying.
- Microplastics (pieces of plastic debris less than 5mm long) are invading our sources of fresh water.
- Some plastics have BPA lining, which can have some serious health implications if ingested or otherwise absorbed into the body.
The Search for a Solution
It’s no surprise that the search for a solution to the problem of plastic has become something of a goldrush. One of the most predominant areas of research is in finding a way to turn plastic into oil. If we can turn plastic into fuel sources by returning it to its original state of hydrocarbon compounds, the material becomes twice as useful as it was before. Rather than piling up in landfills, plastic could fuel our cars and power our homes and businesses — all without expending an excessive amount of energy or generating a harmful amount of emissions.
The Bonnot Company is proud to have developed a means to tackle the biggest issue, single-use plastics, by turning plastics into oil.
The Bonnot team has spent the last decade collaborating with an Akron inventor to pioneer a plastic to oil, or plastic to fuel, solution. The key was being able to take mixed end-of-life plastic, with minimal sorting or cleaning, and convert it back to usable fuel. After initial successes (and failures), the plastics to oil project has finally reached the pilot plant stage with major financial investment.
A pilot plant designed for the process of turning plastic into fuel is under construction in Ashley, IN. 6 Bonnot 8” Twin Screw Feeders will work 24/7 to feed mixed end-of-life waste into a reactor at a rate 12 tons per hour, converting it back into diesel, wax and naptha. Needless to say, we’re very excited to be a part of this project, and we can’t wait for plastic to oil plants like this one to become commercially available in a city near you!