Statement: Macon-Bibb County cuts ties with Brightmark, signaling an end to the world’s largest plastic-to-fuel project

Media Contacts
Jessica Wahl

Former Clean Energy Associate, Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center

MACON – The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority (MBCIA) ended its relationship last week with Brightmark, a company that was working to build the world’s largest plastics-to-fuel facility just north of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport. The Macon Newsroom obtained a termination contract via an open records request that showed Brightmark’s much smaller Indiana facility had failed to deliver proof of concept.

Macon’s rejection of the Brightmark facility has been building for months. In November, dozens of Macon residents attended a public hearing at the MBCIA to voice their concerns about the plant. And in January, Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller withdrew his support for Brightmark’s proposal, citing “the long-term safety concerns” and unproven nature of Brightmark’s plastic-to-fuel process.

Plastic-to-fuel is an energy-intensive and dangerous method for processing and burning petrochemicals. Although advertised as sustainable, these facilities are so inefficient that processing one metric ton of plastic waste creates at least three metric tons of carbon dioxide. In other words, more energy is spent making these fuels than the fuel itself contains. Furthermore, burning plastic and converting it into fuels involves such toxic substances as hydrogen cyanide, benzene, formaldehyde, and dioxins — substances that pollute our air, our water and our bodies and are found in the emissions, waste byproducts and end products of plastics-to-fuel facilities like Brightmark’s.

Environment Georgia Clean Energy Associate Jessica Wahl issued the following statement on the decision: 

“There are so many reasons this facility was a bad idea. Burning plastic trashes our environment and our health, and it doesn’t make financial sense, either. We are relieved that Macon-Bibb has said ‘no’ to the plastic-to-fuel shell game once and for all.

“Investing in new ways to burn plastics is the last thing we should be doing in Georgia as we strive to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and protect the health of our communities. Plastic-to-fuel should have no place in Georgia’s sustainable future, it’s good to know it has no place in Macon-Bibb.”