The Plastic Perspective (FAQ)

Your Plastic Questions—Answered

We get it; plastic can be confusing. That’s why we’ve created this carefully curated frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to answer all of your pressing plastic questions. Keep reading to learn more.

Technical Questions

What types of plastic does Brightmark accept?
Brightmark’s plastics renewal technology can accept and process all plastics – types one through seven–even those co-mingled with different kinds of plastic or “contaminated” with food, dirt, moisture, paper, etc. Some types of plastic are challenging to recycle via conventional mechanical recycling methods, but our plastics renewal process can handle them. Our approach can also recycle Styrofoam.

Does Brightmark accept tires?
Brightmark cannot recycle tires because they are mostly made of non-plastic materials like carbon black, fillers, and steel.

Can Brightmark process (to what extent) contaminated (moisture, bio, fiber, etc.) plastic?
We can accept all plastics with contamination levels of up to 10% by weight. Contamination can include moisture, food remnants, stray metal, dirt, and loose paper mixed with plastic materials. This differs from other plastics renewal technology and recycling methods, which typically cannot accept contaminated plastics, particularly in a single feedstock stream. We have a significant margin in the percentage of contaminants that can be accepted without impacting our output products.

Does Brightmark incinerate plastic?

Our plastics renewal process does not involve incineration or combustion of any kind.

We operate our process in an anaerobic environment, removing the oxygen required for combustion. Our technology uses the technique of pyrolysis to break the chemical bonds in plastic in the absence of oxygen (incineration/combustion requires fire/oxygen) so that the raw materials can be broken down into their original chemical chains, recaptured, then transformed into other valuable products, like fuels and wax or even into new plastic products.

On the other hand, incineration is the process of burning materials like plastic to create heat that is often used to generate electricity. Incineration is a high carbon emission process. Our approach has a significantly reduced carbon intensity compared to other extracting the petroleum products used to make plastic.

How is Brightmark’s plastics renewal technology different from other failed technologies?
Brightmark’s plastics renewal process has been proven at full-scale for continuous operation, unlike similar technologies. It is 93% efficient and provides a high-quality, consistent output, even with an inconsistent input of mixed-stream plastics. We’ve been able to generate consistently high-quality end products.

Also, other technologies have been unable to accept the range of plastics 1-7 in the recycling stream and thus have to expend high cost and energy to sort out single streams of plastic to provide an “on spec” finished product. This complex approach cannot provide the financial returns needed to be viable at today’s crude oil pricing.

Is Brightmark dependent on technology incentives?
We are not dependent on state or federal technology incentives to make our facilities financially viable. The Brightmark process can provide a robust financial return without government incentives due to its high energy efficiency, raw solid material capability, and consistent end-product yield.

How will Brightmark sell its wax?
Brightmark’s wax is sold to a broker, AM Wax, that places the material into the commercial wax market as a feedstock for candles, coated lumber, coated cardboard, and fire logs.

What else can Brightmark make with its wax stream?
This portion of the product stream could also be converted into fuels, lubricants, and other valuable hydrocarbon products.

Environmental Questions

Does Brightmark’s plastics renewal technology produce air emissions? How much?
All manufacturing processes create some CO2 emissions similar to a medium-sized hospital. In Ashley, Indiana, our plant is a 100,000 ton per year Plastic Conversion Unit (PCU) facility with plans to expand to 800,000 tons per year. An 800,000 ton per year facility will still qualify as a minor source emitter. The primary source of these emissions is creating the heat used to dry the plastic and operate our equipment. However, there are deficient emissions levels from the plastics renewal process itself.

What is the carbon offset of this technology?
Based on our analysis, phase 1 of the Ashley IN facility, which will convert 100,000 tons per year of plastic waste into high-value fuels and wax, offsets 28,639 tons of GHGs per year. Our goal is to offset 22 M metric tons of CO2 by 2024 across our projects. [CB1]

The carbon offset involves the fact that we are utilizing locally available hydrocarbon feedstock that doesn’t release methane (as crude oil extraction does) and providing locally available hydrocarbon finished products. The reduced logistics and reduced methane emissions result in a reduced carbon footprint.

Our liquid output is 39% less carbon-intensive than other traditional petroleum sources.

Brightmark is producing fuel/petrochemicals. How is this sustainable?
We are a circularity-focused company that creates circular waste solutions. We’re disrupting waste streams wherever we see that we can make an impact with traditionally difficult or impossible-to-recycle items like children’s car seats and boat shrink wrap.

While the product outputs from the plastics renewal process aren’t yet fully circular, we’re working on a genuinely circular technology solution—converting waste plastic back into “new” plastic products—and our plants are our centers for research and development. Partnerships with others in this space enable our focus on continuous improvements around circularity.

Currently, we produce naphtha and diesel blendstocks and wax from the crude oil and natural gas that has already been extracted and processed during the production of our plastic feedstock. Research shows that developing fuel from chemical recycling processes like ours leads to a 39% reduction in carbon emissions versus extracting new petrochemicals from the ground. 

We anticipate that every one of our future facilities in the United States and worldwide will be focused on a plastic-to-plastic manufacturing model. By 2025, Brightmark aims to produce 1.7M tons of feedstock for the production of new, fully recycled plastics in a fully circular technology solution.

The two types of fuel produced by our process are ultra-low sulfur diesel and naphtha. And there are little known sustainability benefits of both of these products:

The International Maritime Organization recently began requiring large ocean vessels to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel for the first time, which is essential in reducing carbon emissions from the shipping industry because it today contributes 17% of global climate emissions. Switching to this fuel is an incremental step toward a cleaner shipping industry.

Our particular naphtha cut can also be combined with ethylene to make plastic resins, thus enabling a genuinely circular economy process for plastic production. Brightmark is building out this product line in support of this critical goal.

Simply put, our process has three sustainability benefits:
It recycles plastics that would otherwise end up in a landfill, an incinerator, or an ocean.
It produces products that cut emissions and enable a circular economy.
It prevents the need to extract new oil or gas from the ground and potentially disrupts natural environments.

Are you a renewable technology?
Brightmark has found a way to convert a product discarded daily by billions of people, usually destined for landfills or, sadly, our oceans, into a functional product. We think this has great potential for the sustainability of our planet!

So yes, we consider our process a renewable or circular economy technology because we produce needed products from materials that were at the end of their original, intended service life. Rather than dispose of post-use plastics in landfills or incinerators, we repurpose the molecules embodied in those materials for a new use, which inherently prevents those materials from being wasted.

Circularity is our ultimate goal, and we’re making a significant process of developing our plastic-to-plastic technology. We anticipate that every one of our future facilities in the United States and worldwide will be focused on a plastic-to-plastic manufacturing model.

Can Brightmark process ocean plastic?
In most scenarios, we can process ocean plastics. The only exception might be very severely contaminated plastics. But importantly, we think it’s important to focus on preventing plastic waste from making it into the streams, tributaries, and rivers that lead to the ocean. If we can cut off the plastic pollution stream at the source and provide a practical use for that material in the process while creating jobs and economic value, everyone wins.

How toxic is Brightmark’s process? SIR?
93% of the feedstock materials in Brightmark’s facility come out as fuels or wax. The other 7% ends up as a non-toxic, inert residue waste product that can be landfilled or used to make clay or bricks. This material is sent to a local landfill at our Ashley, Indiana, facility. Our future efforts will be toward finding beneficial uses for this material, perhaps as a filler for new plastics.

How dirty, noisy, toxic are Brightmark plants?
All Brightmark Plastics Renewal facilities operate under state and federal air quality permitting guidelines. The emissions from the Ashley plant classify it as a minor emitter: both air and wastewater emissions are extremely low.
Our plants are operated to provide a net positive to the environment.
 

Our process releases no toxic chemicals. 93% of the feedstock materials in Brightmark’s facility come out as fuels or wax. The other 7% ends up as a non-toxic, inert residue waste product that can be landfilled or used to make clay or bricks.

We do not handle any raw garbage at our facilities. Instead, our feedstock is plastic waste that has already passed through a recycling facility and arrives in neat, packaged bales. The plastic feedstock is contained within a building until being fed into the conversion units, and then it is stored in tanks while being processed into finished products.

Noise is limited to the semi-trucks entering the facility to deliver plastic bales or tanker trucks exiting the facility with finished fuels and wax. The sound coming from the process is primarily from the shredders located in the plant, but this sound cannot be readily heard except on our plant property.

Operational Questions

What are the benefits of a remote densification facility?
Clever logistics are critical in scaling an environmentally and financially sustainable solution for plastic waste. We optimize our logistics by building remote densification facilities, which act as collection points for feedstock plastics, removing contamination, densifying the plastics, and then transporting the material to a regional facility for conversion. 

Remote densification facilities expand the territory upon which plastic feedstock is drawn, casting a broader net in areas that may be further away from our anchor plastics conversation facilities. They also allow us to improve the quality of the plastic we receive at our main conversion facility by removing moisture and contaminants before baling the materials for transport.

Setting up our production network in this manner allows us to keep our carbon footprint low by reducing the transportation miles needed to manage our feedstock materials. This ensures that we aren’t shipping contaminant materials that we can’t process, like paper and metals.

How much does Brightmark plan to scale the Ashley facility?
Brightmark plans to scale its Ashley, Indiana plant based on the available plastic feedstock stream to the plant. Phase one will see us processing 100,000 tons of post-use plastics each year. This production level could feasibly grow up to eight times the phase one production—that would mean recycling 800,000 tons of plastic each year. Expanding the Ashley facility would create further opportunities for local jobs and regional recycling infrastructure.

Where will Brightmark expand next?
Brightmark has identified three U.S. sites for new plastic renewal plants that we planned to announce in 2021. We recently announced the first of those sites—Macon, Georgia.

The company plans to invest approximately $500 million to $1B and generate hundreds of new jobs at each site. We anticipate that every one of our future facilities in the United States and worldwide will be focused on a plastic-to-plastic manufacturing model.

What are Brightmark’s international expansion plans?
The problems we solve are global, and the solutions require local answers. Part of our mission is to have a positive global impact. As we achieve our mission, we expect to provide solutions to these problems in many areas of the globe. We anticipate that every one of our future facilities in the United States and worldwide will be focused on a plastic-to-plastic manufacturing model.

Most recently, we announced a memorandum of understanding with SK Global Chemical, a global petrochemical company in South Korea, to create a partnership that aims to take the lead in the circular economy of plastic.

We’ve identified multiple international sites for Brightmark recycling plants, so keep an eye out for updates from us about those locations.

How can I send you my plastic?
Please direct material offers and supply inquiries to brightmark.com/contact for evaluation.

How can I invest in Brightmark? How can I buy Brightmark stock?
Brightmark is not a public entity and does not have any open offers of stock.

Is Brightmark concerned about the creditworthiness of plastic suppliers?
Brightmark’s policy is to over-contract plastic supply with various suppliers. This reduces the risk of default by any one party. Of course, it is always best to contract with a credit-worthy party.

What happens when China (or others) opens up to plastic (again)?
There is enough plastic waste generated in the U.S. and worldwide every year to satisfy the volume required to operate our facilities with or without the China market open to trash exports.

If/when the world eliminates plastic use, what will Brightmark do with its plants then?
While plastic is under great scrutiny, there are many applications where plastic is the most environmentally positive material. With the innovative Brightmark process proven, we anticipate that the world will migrate toward a new level of materials optimization. The Brightmark process will convert the remaining plastics streams and other hard to recycle materials into valuable components to reduce our carbon footprint further. Since there is no one silver bullet to improving humankind’s impact on the planet, we see the Brightmark process as one of many necessary tools to optimize our environmental stewardship.

What are the conventional and hazardous air pollutants associated with Brightmark’s plants?
All manufacturing processes create some air emissions. Our plants’ emissions are similar to those of a medium-sized hospital. Specifically, our plant in Ashley, Indiana, is considered a minor emitter under the Clean Air Act, and we anticipate that our Georgia facility will fall under the same category. The primary source of these emissions is to reduce our carbon footprint, further creating the heat used to dry the plastic and operate our equipment. However, there are very low emissions levels from the plastics renewal process itself.

Additionally, a recent third-party analysis we commissioned showed that our liquid output is 39% less carbon-intensive than traditional methods of petroleum production.

Will Brightmark’s technology encourage more plastic production?
Consumers demand options for reducing their plastic consumption and products made from recycled materials, and we think that’s fantastic. To be clear, Brightmark fully supports efforts to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

That being said, plastic plays a vital role in our economy and in the products we use, including much essential health and safety uses like children’s car seats and IV tubes. Even with the tremendous progress being made on reducing our reliance on plastic and innovating alternatives, the reality is that plastic is likely to be a significant manufacturing material in our society for many years to come. That’s why we need responsible ways for managing the disposal and reuse of these raw materials circularly, and Brightmark offers that.

Also, we specialize in plastics that have been historically difficult or impossible to recycle. Car seats, as I mentioned, are significant for us. We process a lot of plastic components from electronic waste and other industrial waste streams that would be headed directly to a landfill or incinerator if we didn’t accept them.

What steps is Brightmark taking to promote environmental justice?
Environmental justice is fundamental to me personally, and we’ve built it into the DNA of the business. As I mentioned, we are a minor emitter under the Clean Air Act, similar to a medium-sized community hospital. Also, to further reduce our environmental impact, we’re exploring options for powering our Georgia plant with an on-site solar array.

Another way we commit to environmental justice is through our partnerships. In Indiana, we partner with RecycleForce, a social enterprise that delivers comprehensive and innovative recycling services supporting workforce training, development, and job placement for formerly incarcerated men and women transitioning back to society. This program is an incredible success: the recidivism rate of RecycleForce participants is 25 percent versus about 77 percent nationwide.

We collaborate on training, hiring, and recycling. We offtake all of their plastic. Thanks to this partnership, the organization has dramatically expanded the amount of waste it accepts for processing, which means it can accept more trainees.

We also have an ongoing partnership with 4H around education and job opportunities for students from rural communities. 

Is Brightmark’s solution genuinely circular? Can it ever really be circular, given that so many others have failed?
Brightmark is a circularity-focused company that creates solutions to eliminate waste and reuse our resources. We’re disrupting waste streams wherever we see that we can make an impact with traditionally difficult or impossible-to-recycle items.

While the product outputs from the plastics renewal process aren’t yet fully circular, we’re working on a genuinely circular technology solution—converting waste plastic back into “new” plastic products—and our plants are our centers for research and development. Partnerships with others in this space enable our focus on continuous improvements around circularity.

Currently, we produce naphtha and diesel blendstocks and wax from the crude oil and natural gas that has already been extracted and processed during the production of our plastic feedstock. Research shows that developing fuel from chemical recycling processes like ours leads to a 39% reduction in carbon emissions versus extracting new petrochemicals from the ground. 

We anticipate that every one of our future facilities in the United States and worldwide will be focused on a plastic-to-plastic manufacturing model. By 2025, Brightmark aims to produce 1.7M tons of feedstock to produce new, fully recycled plastics.