It feels inadequate to say that 2020 has been a difficult year for many of us. You don’t need me to recount the news of the year to know that it’s felt like a real punch in the gut much of the time. Gratitude has really gotten me through this year – gratitude for my health, for my family, for the Brightmark team, and for work that’s meaningful and creates a better world.

In that spirit of gratitude, I’m reflecting on some of the highlights of 2020 for the team here at Brightmark as we approach the new year.

Goals that Match our Ambition
Big ambition requires big goals. So, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, this year we announced measurable new objectives that demonstrate our deep commitment to putting our environmental values at the center of all we do. In the next five years, Brightmark aims to:

– Divert 8.4 million metric tons of plastic from landfills and the natural environment

– Produce 1.7 million tons of new plastics from the post-consumer plastics, thus creating a truly circular solution at an unheard of scale

– Offset the release of 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

By focusing on the big picture and the long-term good we’re trying to do, I know these goals are within our reach.

Poop to Power…A LOT of Poop
As of today, Brightmark has partnered with 23 dairy farms in seven states on renewables natural gas (RNG) projects featuring anaerobic digestion technology. Once all of these projects are operational, Brightmark’s RNG projects will generate enough renewable natural gas each year to drive 5,100 eighteen-wheeler trucks from San Francisco to New York City.

Going forward, we’re in an even better position to grow the impact of our RNG work, thanks to the joint venture we created with Chevron this year. Our JV will build and own dairy biomethane projects across the U.S, allowing us to expand our successful anaerobic digestion project model to even more farms. Our initial joint investment with Chevron will fund the construction of infrastructure and the commercial operation of four RNG projects, with much more to come.

Car Seats, Crayons and Cell Phones Hit the Line in the Hoosier State
This past year also saw our plastics renewal vision begin to come to life, after years of planning, and man… it feels good. We have now financed and built our $260 million, first-of-its-kind plastics renewal facility in Ashley, IN. Our plant is now producing liquids, which was a huge moment for our team. Beginning in Q1 next year, the plant will accept 100,000 tons of plastics each year for conversion into new products – a vastly greater scale than any other facility of its kind in the world.

Now that Ashley is operational, our team has been able to move forward with an even greater ambition. Earlier this year we launched a nationwide search for our next U.S. plastics renewal plant sites. We plan to invest $500 million to $1B at each site location, and each plant will process hundreds of thousands of tons of plastics each year. We’ve since identified three future U.S. facility sites that we’re eager to announce in early 2021. What’s even more exciting is our plan to further develop our technology to be fully circular and be able to create new plastics from our plastic waste. Working to create circular solutions that reduce waste and renew our resources is at the core of everything we do.

As we scale this footprint, we’re going to need A LOT more plastic, so we also launched the largest EVER solicitation for plastic waste. Nothing like this had ever been done before, but we’ve proven ready to meet the challenge and so have our suppliers: to date, we’ve secured more than 1 million tons of the plastic we need, and we’re rapidly securing more of this feedstock every day, diverting post-use plastics from landfills, incinerators, or your local waterway.

2021 Outlook: Scale and Deliver
In the coming year, our team will be focused on scaling our impact and delivering on our commitments. We’ll develop more RNG projects, partner with new farmers in new states, and establish our first international RNG projects. On the plastics side, we’ll flip the switch on our Ashley plant and grow the processing footprint for that site so that it can serve as a major plastic recycling hub for the Midwest. And of course, we’re really looking forward to announcing new sites for our plastics renewal facilities, both domestic and international.

When I look over the Brightmark team’s top achievements in 2020, I find plenty to be grateful for. As we approach the hope and excitement of the new year, let’s remember to stay grounded in gratitude, and I reckon we will always find something to feel thankful for.

Happy Holidays,
Bob Powell
CEO and Founder