Recycling: Will We Turn Plastic Bags Into Diesel Fuel?
March 26, 2018

Everyone knows that fresh plastic is made from petroleum feedstocks. Put another way, we drill oil out of the ground, then refine it into plastic rather than turning it into gasoline, or any other petroleum-based product. We also know that when we’ve finished using our plastic products, we’re supposed to recycle them. This keeps them out of landfills, and if we buy products made from recycled plastic we get the added benefit of making sure we use as little fresh petroleum as possible. However, we are tossing out far more plastic than we’re recycling, and one of the most problematic products out there are single-use shopping bags.

Even though we’re all aware we should really bring our own, reusable bags when we go out shopping, that hasn’t greatly reduced the demand for these single-serving bags. Worse, every year more and more of these bags wind up in our landfills, our oceans, and other places where they can do significant harm to the environment.

But what if these bags had value? What if, when we were done with them, we could transform them into something we needed? Something like diesel fuel, perhaps?

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

According to Science Direct, there is a process to turn plastic shopping bags into diesel fuel, and other petroleum products, once we’ve hauled our groceries home and have no further use for them. So rather than mining for oil, companies could open up landfills and recover these plastic bags to turn them into fuel and fuel additives. Given there are millions of these bags literally buried in the ground, or sitting in junk drawers around the world, they represent a major, untapped resource.

And that’s just one form of plastic product we could transform into a more useful commodity when it reaches its end-of-life stage. Imagine what we could do with the others.

March 26, 2018
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