Brightmark, Georgia county cancel $680 mln plastic-to-fuel project

WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) - Brightmark Energy and a county in the U.S. state of Georgia scrapped plans to build "the world's largest" facility to turn plastic waste into fuel, according to a termination agreement published on Monday, a blow to a technology the petrochemical industry has promoted heavily.

Brightmark missed a deadline to deliver "end product" to customers from a similar facility in Indiana, a condition of its contract with the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, which had planned to build a $680 million chemical recycling facility.

The project Brightmark described as the world's largest advanced recycling project was no longer "in the interest of either Company or Authority," according to the termination agreement signed by both parties this month and posted online by the Macon Newsroom newspaper on Monday.

Brightmark had said the Renewal Georgia project would use its pyrolisis technology to convert hard-to-recycle plastics, like films and styrofoam, into 64 million gallons of low sulfur diesel fuel and naphtha blend stocks, and 20 million gallons of wax. It aimed to divert 400,000 tons of plastic waste per year from landfills and incinerators.

Months earlier, the mayor of Macon-Bibb county withdrew his support of the proposal, citing worries about safety of an "unproven process."

Many advanced recycling projects have emerged in recent years in response to a global explosion of plastic waste. More than 90% gets dumped or incinerated because there is no cheap way to repurpose it, according to a landmark 2017 study in the journal Science Advances.

The project is the latest in a series of failed efforts to deploy chemical or advanced recycling technology at commercial scale to solve the world's burgeoning plastic waste problem.

Reuters examined 30 projects by two-dozen advanced recycling companies across three continents and found most have closed down or are far behind schedule.

The petrochemical industry has touted this technology as a way to process all types of plastic, eliminating the expensive sorting and cleaning needed for traditional recycling. More than a dozen states have passed laws aiming to spur its development.

Neither Brightmark nor the Macon Bibb County Industrial Authority were available for comment.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.