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Turning plastic into new products and energy

Plastic waste is a big problem in the U.S., where 47 million water bottles are used and thrown away every year. In 2010, WM invested in MicroGreen, a company that uses technology to turn plastics into new products. MicroGreen’s InCycle cups use up to 50 percent recycled content and are 100 percent recyclable. A lifecycle analysis by Franklin Associates found that InCycle technology requires the lowest amount of energy to create its products and produces the lowest amount of total solid waste.

WM has been developing technology to turn plastics into fuel using pyrolysis, which changes the chemical composition of organic material through exposure to high temperatures. Through pyrolysis, industrial and consumer plastics can be turned into a high octane synthetic crude oil. The crude oil is then turned into ultra-low sulfur diesel plus other transportation fuels and petroleum products.

WM’s first plastics recovery facility began its start-up phase in 2013 in Portland, Oregon. It is the largest commercially operational waste-to-plastic-to-synthetic crude oil facility in North America. It processed 848 tons of plastic into into 200,972 gallons of oil in 2013, which was delivered to a Tacoma, Washington oil refinery.

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