California Startup Converts Methane From Manure into Eco-Friendly Plastic

By Kourtney Seaton

For years, scientists have been dabbling with the idea to convert methane emitted from manure into something more useful and knew there was more than oil and mineral gas. Plastic was the answer, but cost was the hurdle to conquer.

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Newlight Technologies CEO Mark Herrema has mastered the technology to make eco-friendly plastic and eliminate the potent methane from seeping into the atmosphere. The Costa Mesa, California startup already has contracts with major corporations to supply the plastic for packaging, containers and chairs.

According to their website, it took 10 years of research and development to commercialize the carbon capture technology that combines air with methane-based greenhouse gas emissions to produce a plastic material called AirCarbon™: a material made from captured carbon that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and out-compete on price.

Herrema claims his company can make plastics cheaper than traditional alternatives such as petrochemical-based plastics and hopes to transform the plastic industry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, Newlight receives its methane from a covered waste pit filled with manure and other runoff from a Tulare County dairy farm. Then, it travels by truck to a nearby Newlight facility.

Tackling an industry that produces about 600 billion pounds of plastic annually is a grueling task, but we wish Newlight Technologies success.

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