ECO2 Plastics makes me want to dance–although this was after it made me want to sob. I’ll get to the latter later. The former is why I’ve titled this post “Environmental Boogaloo”. Boogaloo (bugalu) is a type of Latin dance and music and, after speaking with the good folks at ECO2 Plastics, I want to dance!
Why I Wanted to Sob
In getting info for this article I found out what ECO2 CEO Rod Rougelot calls “recycling’s dirty little secret.” During the process of recycling plastic, tons of water is wasted during cleaning. This water is not your ordinary run-of-the-watermill water, however. A variety of harmful acids and detergents are added to the water to clean the contaminants, glue, and labels off the plastic. Deflocculants are then added to pull the solids out of the wastewater. Finally, (and this is a very general explanation of the process) the wastewater is treated to balance the pH level of the water. This is done through the use of more chemicals. End result: one, sanitized plastic ready to be recycled; two, a cocktail of harmful, detergents, chemicals, acids, bases, deflocculants, and contaminants headed down the drain and back into our fresh water supply (approximately 40 million gallons per year to be–approximately–exact). When I verbalized my feelings of being hoodwinked, Rougelot quickly pointed out that, although a dirty, wasteful process, it is still better than creating plastic from scratch. Thanks for the verbal tissue Rod. Goodbye, for now, tears!
After years in the recycling biz, building about a half-dozen water-based recycling plants, ECO2 founder Gary DeLaurentiis thought there had to be a better way. After all, recycling is for the good of the planet, so there had to be a “green” way to do a “green” thing (while saving and earning some “green” in the meantime). That’s when DeLaurentiis, along with Honeywell, co-invented a patent which uses a biodegradable organic solvent made of sugar beets and corn (in conjunction with liquid CO2) to decontaminate the recycled plastic. In the entire process (get ready to boogaloo), no water or harmful chemicals are used, and the liquid CO2 is distilled and used over and over again, as is the solvent. Now that’s the type of environmental impact that I always imagined recycling to have. And, make no mistake, without having to use immense amounts of water, chemicals and whatever else, ECO2 saves a good amount of money in the process, thus making it a solid business model able to compete in the world wide market.
With one plant in the San Francisco area, and more in the works, ECO2 is leading a recycling revolution. Rougelot believes this should “change plastic recycling all over the world.” I am inclined to agree. Let’s hope he’s right.
With a passionate DeLaurentiis and his hardworking supporting cast pushing ECO2 into the mainstream—there’s no reason to believe otherwise…so keep dancing!
A Dose of Irony
More and more people all over the world are drinking bottled water because of the real and imagined threats of tap water. Yet, the process of creating the plastic for the water bottles, along with the old (read: current, or non-ECO2) way of recycling are two of the leading contributors that make our drinking water less drinkable…
sip on that.
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.