How a local company is turning plastic into diesel

Published: Feb. 21, 2020 at 5:28 PM EST
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A local company in New Hampshire is taking plastics and turning them into diesel. Our Adam Sullivan takes you inside the operation to see how this plays into modern energy plans.

The warehouse in Groveton, New Hampshire, used to be a storage facility for an old paper plant. But now it's been converted into what some say is the technology of the future.

"The future is in the carbon. People who say the carbon time is back, no," said Michel Bisson, a consultant on the project.

Bisson explains how the Prima America Plastics to Diesel Plant in Groveton works. Simply put, the plant turns plastic waste into clean sulfur-free diesel.

It's a pilot project that's currently 10 years in the making. But the owners, who are unnamed silent investors, have big plans for old oil refineries around the world.

"We can take all the plastic-- Boston, New York, Miami, all the plastic on the East Coast-- bring it there," Bisson said.

"To get to 100% carbon-free energy sources we need to look for creative solutions," said Rep. Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire.

Kuster recently unveiled her clean energy agenda which has a goal to reduce carbon pollution to zero by the year 2050. She toured the plant Friday.

"To use the resources of the community to create new economic energy initiatives in the community," Kuster said.

A lot of the equipment used at the plant has been recycled from the previous tenant, an old paper mill. It used to be the major industry in New Hampshire's North Country but slowly gone by the wayside.

"To see all the stuff we had move away has been tough," said Blaine Hall who owns a barbershop on Main Street in Groveton.

Hall is excited about innovative technology taking place right up the road.

"It gives, hopefully, our young folks some hope that there is something to do here in town and they don't have to move away," Hall said.

Right now, Prima is using old plastic from farms like hay bale wrapping and sugaring equipment. But plant officials say the plastic in the oceans could be theirs for the taking.

"Most of it comes from Vermont and northern New Hampshire and some from Canada," Bisson said.

It is a $28 million project. Plant officials say once the plant is operating at full capacity, they can produce upward of 1,200 gallons of diesel and run 24 hours a day.