In July of 2009, we reported on the technology we found in Oregon that was able to convert recycled plastics into oil(Our Visit to Agri-Plas). My good friend Ed recently made us aware of some new technology coming out of Japan that makes this process possible on a micro-scale that could eventually be available to everyone (Man Invents Machine To Convert Plastic Into Oil).
According to the developer, "The machine produced in various sizes, for both industrial and home uses, can easily transform a kilogram of plastic waste into a liter of oil, using about 1 kW·h of electricity but without emitting CO2 in the process. The machine uses a temperature controlling electric heater instead of flames, processing anything from polyethylene or polystyrene to polypropylene (numbers 2-4). 1 kg of plastic produces one liter of oil, which costs $1.50. This process uses only about 1 kW·h of electricity, which costs less than 20 cents!"
The potential for this is huge. Imagine a world where many homes are equipped with this machine, and apartment dwellers or neighborhoods share a machine together. The resulting oil could then be returned to collection centers where it can be reused in the production of hundreds of petroleum based products including plastics that could then be recycled again and again. The potential reduction in CO2 emissions is remarkable and much of the waste that currently ends up in a landfill or the ocean could be eliminated. In Third World countries where plastic waste frequently ends up directly in the environment as the means for disposing of waste are not always readily available, the plastic waste could be converted directly into oil used for heating and cooking or kerosene for light.
This new machine is compact, can be easily transported, and the technology appears to be relatively simple. Combined with the advances that are being made in plastic materials that are not made from petroleum (Bio-Plastics, Biodegradable Plastics Made From Plants) , there is hope!