A New Solution to Our Bottled Water Problem?

Akinori Itu, CEO of the Japanese company Blest, has created a machine that converts plastic back into oil. Akinori admits that when he was a child, he didn’t care about the environment. Since then, the places where he used to play as a child have disappeared, due in part to plastic pollution. In Japan and elsewhere, there is very little space for trash disposal, and Itu hopes that his machine can help solve the problems that arise as a result. Since plastic is made from oil, Itu concluded that it must not be very difficult to convert it back. It was this conclusion that birthed his machine.

So how does it work? You simply fill the compartment with plastic trash, cover with the lid, and tighten. When the machine is turned on, the temperature rises enough to melt the plastic which produces a gas. This gas travels upward through a thin tube into a container filled with tap water which cools the gas, turning it into oil. One kilogram of plastic makes one liter of oil, which can then be processed further to create gasoline, diesel and kerosene.

Burning plastic results in harmful CO2 emissions, but converting it into oil has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent, lessening our environmental impact. Itu takes the machine into developing countries, where the dangers of plastic are less known, and uses it to raise awareness about the value of plastic. With this machine, according to Itu, plastic is no longer trash or waste, but “an oil field,” and a “treasure.”

Could this be the solution to our bottled water problem? Large amounts of oil and water resources are depleted in the production and transport of plastic water bottles and other plastic products; however, if the plastic can later be converted back into the liquid that was used to make it, our carbon footprint may be significantly reduced. But does this machine serve to enable and to justify our wasteful habits?

I’m still convinced that the best cure for any disease is prevention. While this machine could serve to recycle the plastic that is currently stored in our landfills, the only way to eradicate the future threat of plastic to the environment is to stop producing it in the first place. What do you think?