Plastics Recycling Update

Chemical recycling firm plans $950 million facility

Brightmark announced a new pyrolysis plant in Georgia, following up on canceled 2022 Georgia plant plans. | Courtesy of Brightmark

Brightmark is developing a pyrolysis plant in Georgia capable of processing 800 million pounds of mixed plastics per year, the company announced last week.

The San Francisco-based company on April 23 described its plans for a 2.5-million-square-foot facility in Thomaston, which is about 60 miles south of Atlanta. The plant, dubbed a “circularity center” by Brightmark, will bring in mixed plastics Nos. 1-7. It will remove contaminants, shred the plastics, compress them into pellets of shredded material and process them using pyrolysis, the company said.

As part of Brightmark’s process, the plastics are “heated and vaporized in an oxygen-starved environment,” the vapor is “captured and cooled into a hydrocarbon liquid” and the liquid is processed into a “pyrolysis oil,” according to the company. The output can be used to manufacture fuels, oils, waxes, new plastics or other chemical products.

The company added it will source scrap plastic from a variety of sources, including MRFs, schools, industrial sites and manufacturing facilities, suggesting it will bring in both post-consumer and post-industrial plastic.

Brightmark currently operates one U.S. chemical recycling facility in Ashley, Indiana, and an Australian plant in New South Wales. The Indiana facility has a processing capacity of 200 million pounds per year, although it has processed just 4 million pounds to date, the company confirmed to Plastics Recycling Update.

The new announcement comes two years after Brightmark canceled its plans for a similar-scale pyrolysis plant in Macon, Georgia. That plan, first unveiled in 2021, carried a $680 million price tag and a capacity of 800 million pounds per year.

The project was canceled after Brightmark did not meet a requirement – tied to funding arranged by the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority – to prove its Indiana plant was selling end products to at least one buyer. The project partners agreed to end those plans in April 2022, the Macon Telegraph reported, but they hinted at possible future siting of a Brightmark facility elsewhere in Georgia.

This story has been updated to clarify Brightmark’s processing capacity and amount processed to date.

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