Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oil be Blest

In the past month, this blog has covered both the recycling of plastic into its original polymers and monomers, and the development of sugar-based biodegradable plastic. These are both great innovations, but the reality is that each of them are still in the developmental stage, and both of them require relatively expensive, large-scale processes.

Meanwhile, more oil is being used to manufacture plastics each year than is consumed in the entire continent of Africa. And it's no news to anyone that the very same oil that goes into making plastic is running out.

Ideally, what we need is an inexpensive process that converts plastic back into the oil that created it.

Akinori Ito, CEO of Japanese company Blest, is not necessarily an idealist. But he has turned this ideal into a reality with his Waste Plastic Oiling System (pictured), which just so happens to be a relatively inexpensive machine that converts plastic back into oil.

For around $12,500, you can begin converting any old plastic at the rate of about one liter of oil per kilogram of plastic. If all the plastic that was manufactured each year was converted in this way, we would have an extra 60 million barrels, or so, of oil at our disposal. Each year.

But it's not just about oil. One hundred million tons of unbiodegradable plastic is a big annual tax on our environment, our wildlife, and our resources. Wouldn't it be nice to know that the plastic we use isn't going to end up clogging a landfill, or having its toxic components burnt into our atmosphere, or killing our oceans?

Ito thinks so. Here's a video featuring him and his invention:

No comments: