Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe talks with Jeff Gold, founder and CEO of Altanta-based Nexus Fuels, which processes 50 tons of plastic daily using molecular recycling that breaks the material down into the basic elements of hydrocarbon found in oil so it can be reused in new plastic. It’s the leading edge of chemical technologies for creating a circular economy.
Nexus combines waste management and energy production using Plastics #2, #4, #5, and #6 to make feedstock — the raw materials for new plastic or fuel. Gold explains that Nexus stopped sending its recycled hydrocarbons to oil companies to prevent the recycled plastic from becoming air pollution when burned as fuel. Instead, the material can be used in new food-grade plastic, which can be recycled again and again. Nexus works with Cobb County, Georgia, and Dow to process plastic from the Hefty Energy Bag program.
We discuss the future of plastic and whether it would be possible to begin mining plastic in landfills to produce the raw material for new plastic without drilling new oil. Nexus’ business model allows for the company to pay for plastic waste and operate profitably. Gold speculates that consumer incentive programs could be created that pay people for returning plastic. This would enable a circular economy in the material and keep waste out of waterways and the oceans.
Nexus this week announced a partnership with Wood, an engineering firm, to expand globally. According to Gold, “Our accelerated plan and strategic relationships with firms like Wood will allow Nexus to advance current production rates to 5,000 tons of recycled feedstock per day, supporting the reuse of over 5 million tons of plastic waste annually with an estimated annual savings of 30 million tons of CO2 emissions when compared with incineration.”