Indy Nonprofit to Fuel Plastics-to-Fuel Plant
California-based Brightmark Energy, which is currently building a $260 million plastics-to-fuel facility in northeast Indiana, is partnering with an Indianapolis nonprofit to supply materials to be recycled at the plant. The facility, located in the Steuben County town of Ashley, will initially have the capacity to convert about 100,000 tons of plastics into more than 18 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and naptha blend stocks, as well as 6 million gallons of commercial grade wax each year.
As part of the agreement with Indy-based RecycleForce, the nonprofit will supply mixed-plastic materials for recycling. RecycleForce says it will be able to provide Brightmark with up to 1,700 tons per month of mixed plastics that come from a variety of products, such as televisions, computers, car seats, and others.
RecycleForce President Greg Keesling says the deal will create a way to offload materials that the organization previously couldn’t do anything with.
“Increasingly, we have been stuck with what to do with the plastics off of toothbrushes, hairdryers, knock-off tablets, medical devices, you name it, and it’s very difficult to find buyers for this mixed plastic,” said Keesling. “The biggest issue is these plastics are different types and there’s not a market for mixed plastic, or there’s not very much of one.”
Keesling says the Ashley plant will be able to take every kind of plastic RecycleForce sends and process it into the new materials. He says the process will benefit the nonprofit in multiple ways.
“Not only are we going to be able to send (the plastics) but instead of having to secure containers, oversee shipping, we’re going to be able to put them into box trucks and semis and drive up, you know, the two-plus hours to northern Indiana. It’s going to dramatically change how much material we can take in and process because we now have a reliable outflow for this plastic waste.”
As part of the multiyear agreement between the two organizations, RecycleForce will be able to increase the volume of plastic materials to the Ashley plant over time as the nonprofit expands its operations and can bring in more material. Keesling says they are in the process of building their own new, 114,000-square-foot facility that will allow them to take in at least triple the amount the material it can currently handle.
“The material is out there. We’re very ideally suited in central Indiana because so many distribution centers are here and we think that the future of retail returns and processing this material (by) diverting from waste-to-energy or diverting from landfill is a really big growth industry for us and this plant in Ashley, Indiana.”
In addition to supplying materials to the new plant, RecycleForce will also help with providing the workforce to operate the facility. The nonprofit provides services to formerly incarcerated men and women, such as workforce training, case management, peer mentorship, and job opportunities.
Some of the 136 jobs expected to be created with the new facility will include individuals trained by RecycleForce. Those workers will begin with a wage of $15 per hour with full benefits.
Construction on the facility began last May and though an official completion date has not been set, Brightmark said in March it is rapidly approaching the finishing line.
Keesling says the deal will create a way to offload materials that the organization previously couldn’t do anything with.