Macon mayor withdraws support for plastics recycling plant

A Georgia mayor urges an industrial development council to refuse to help a plastic recycling plant borrow money, saying he’s worried about the safety of the proposed plant.

WMAZ-TV reports that Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller is urging the Macon-Bibb County Industry Authority to reject the approval of San Francisco-based Brightmark.

The company wants to borrow $ 500 million in tax-exempt industrial bonds to build what it plans to be a $ 680 million factory in Macon.

“While we should and will continue to support green energy, economic development and technical jobs, we cannot ignore the long-term safety concerns of this unproven process that have been raised in recent weeks.” Miller wrote in a letter on Friday.

The plant is expected to be the largest of its kind and employ around 100 people. It would break down plastics at high temperatures, with waste distilled into diesel fuel, new petroleum ingredients for plastics and wax. Brightmark currently operates a similar, smaller factory in Ashley, Indiana.

Opponents dominated a public hearing in November over the authority’s plan to help the company issue bonds. The county would not be financially threatened by the Industrial Income Bonds, which would help Brightmark borrow money cheaply and not pay taxes. But opponents don’t want Macon-Bibb to do anything to help the company.

Environmentalists oppose the plant, in part because it would emit pollution, but mainly because they fear the Brightmark facility will make it easier to produce more plastic when plastic waste clogs natural environments .

The Georgia Water Coalition, in opposing the plant, said it would “lead to the release of highly toxic greenhouse gases and dioxins locally while producing fuels which, when burned, would release even more greenhouse gas. The process would also perpetuate our dependence on plastics and fossil fuels by creating new pipelines for non-recyclable plastic waste. “

Brightmark CEO Bob Powell said the company’s technology “solves problems, doesn’t create them.”

“We don’t cremate. In fact, our process won’t work if it’s cremated, ”said Powell. “I won’t incinerate plastics because I think that’s a bad environmental answer.”

Powell said the plant would have minimum emissions, similar to a mid-sized hospital.