Award

Improved method to separate and recover oil and plastic

The Kansas City Plant developed a pro-cess that uses liquid and supercritical carbon dioxide to blast oil residue off of empty plastic motor oil bottles. With this process, which produces no waste streams, both the residual oil and clean plastic can then be reused.The Kansas City Plant patented this process and licensed the technology to Itec Environmental Group, which used it to develop a plastics recycling system called the ECO2. Itec has been able to use this system to recycle not only mo-tor oil bottles, but almost every other type of consumer plastic as well. ECO2 has proven to be superior to convention-al plastic recycling methods because it produces no waste, generates cleaner and more marketable plastic, and can recover residual oil for recycling, which no other system can do. Propelled by the Kansas City Plant’s cleaning technology, Itec’s ECO2 sys-tem surpasses other methods of plas-tics recycling for several reasons. Most importantly, the liquid carbon dioxide and special solvent it uses are both re-usable, so ECO2 does not create any wastestreams, unlike water-wash sys-tems that collectively discharge 100 bil-lion gallons of contaminated water into the environment each year. And be-cause it has no environmental impact, special waste permits are not required to set up an ECO2 recycling facility, which makes it less costly to start up. Overall, the ECO2 system costs 30% less to op-erate than traditional water-wash recy-cling systems, which provides for higher profit margins due to decreased operat-ing costs.Not only is the ECO2 system more envi-ronmentally friendly and less expensive, but it creates a better product. Though originally intended for cleaning used oil bottles, this technology can com-pletely remove glue, labels, oil and dirt from plastic containers as well. It also eliminates all odors, making the plas-tic cleaner, more marketable and more profitable than plastics cleaned with wa-ter-washing. ECO2 generates FDA-ap-proved clean plastics, which are in high Contact: George Bohnert, (816) 997-5069, gbohnert@kcp.comFrom left: Henry Smith, George Bohnert, Thomas Hand and Ronald Olsondemand in the plastics indus-try, especially for use in pro-duce packag-ing.Because of this technol-ogy transfer effort, Itec has been able to com-mercialize the ECO2 recycling method and start up a promising new company that has captured the interest of both the plastics industry and environmental waste management organizations.
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