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CEO of new Macon recycling company, Brightmark, says plant will have minimal emissions

After Maconites and environmental advocacy groups raised concerns, 13WMAZ brought questions to Brightmark and took a closer look at its compliance with EPA rules

MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb County will soon be the home to what some are calling the "world's largest advanced plastics recycling and renewal facility."

The Industrial Authority is discussing signing off on $500 million in revenue bonds for Brightmark to start the project. 

The Industrial Authority talked about that decision earlier this week.

Peg Jones, president of Save our Rivers, Inc., lined up Monday to voice her concerns about the new recycling plant coming to Macon.

"We've got to have an environmental impact study to see how this is going to affect everybody involved… the wildlife, our rivers, the state of Georgia," Jones said. 

Jones says she's worried about the emissions the plant may give off, but Brightmark CEO Bob Powell says their process is clean.

"We are solving problems, not creating them," Powell said. 

Powell says their patented, closed loop technology heats plastics until it's vaporized into liquids.

Then, the company condenses it to turn into other plastics, wax, and even diesel fuel. 

"We do not incinerate. In fact, our process won't work if it is incinerated," Powell said. "I won't do incineration of plastics because I think it's a bad environmental answer." 

Another concern others pointed out is the potential smell coming from the plant. Powell says odors won't be a problem.

"Plastics in landfills, which is the most typical spot, actually contribute to smells into the community. We're solving that. We're now bringing plastic away from landfills to create new products. In a closed loop system like that, there's no smells associated," Powell said. 

The plant's CEO says it will have minimal emissions similar to a medium-sized hospital.

"You can be sure we're about solving the big environmental issues of the day," Powell said. 

This plant in Macon will be Brightmark's second facility of its kind. The first is in Ashley, Indiana.

So, we asked EPA officials in that state about the company's compliance.

According to the company's EPA report, the company didn't get any violations until quarter 13, which began in July of this year.

The plant's compliance on its last inspection report was marked "undetermined."

Josh Singer with the EPA says there were violations this year relating to water effluent, wastewater coming from the plant.

Powell says the company plans to complete the design of the project by next year and begin construction by the beginning of 2023.

There's no word on when the Industrial Authority will vote on the $500 million in revenue bonds for the project.

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