Yukon firm turns plastic into oil

Diverting plastic from landfills and turning it into oil is no longer just a pipe dream in the Yukon.

WHITEHORSE — Diverting plastic from landfills and turning it into oil is no longer just a pipe dream in the Yukon.

A machine invented in Japan has been installed in a Whitehorse recycling plant that can chew through 240 kilograms of plastic every day and produce enough oil to heat about 70 homes.

The technology is suited to northern Canada, where most homes are heated with oil-burning furnaces.

The contraption, which is the first of its kind in North America, looks like a mad scientist’s workshop and takes over an area roughly the size of a pool table at the warehouse at P&M Recycling.

Plastic that has been cut into coarse granules is fed into a trough, moves through various tubes and chambers until it turns into a gas and is cooled.

At the end, a light-coloured oil drips from a spigot into a receptacle.

The machine processes about 10 kilograms of plastic, producing about 10 litres of oil hourly, and can run continuously.

The oil that comes out is a blend of gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and some heavy oils. It can be fed directly into an oil furnace, or could be processed further into something that could go straight into a diesel engine.

The only other byproducts include a tiny bit of carbon residue, carbon dioxide and water vapour. The carbon dioxide emitted is equivalent to about four humans breathing normally.

When Yukon innovator Andy Lera first heard about the machine, he thought it might be too good to be true.

“I looked at it and I thought, can this really exist, can this be true, can this process really work? Plastic, it comes from oil, but can we turn it back into oil?”

Lera experimented with his own small-scale plastic processor, which he admits was not particularly efficient or safe, but it proved that the plastic-to-oil process worked.

He found a company in Japan that promised its machines could do the same thing, efficiently and on a large scale.

With a little more research, Lera discovered how beneficial the technology would be for the Yukon.

“During the process of studying it, what I found out was that there are problems in our recycling stream,” Lera said.

“We all think it’s good to recycle, it’s good to recycle plastic. But in reality, when you go down and look at it, and find out that a lot of our plastic is being shipped out, it goes to China, it goes to India and the processing out there is not very clean.”

Lera’s idea came to life thanks to funding from Cold Climate Innovation at the Yukon Research Centre and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, in partnership with P&M Recycling.

They bought the machine for about $200,000 through a distributor and modified it to function in a cold climate.

The goal of this pilot project was to give P&M Recycling the ability to process plastics onsite, rather than sorting it and trucking it south, while producing enough energy to heat the 55-square-metre recycling centre.

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Judge lifts publication ban, revealing details about Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Newly released documents reveal how last week’s deadly attack unfolded… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month