Making Plastic from the Air

I found this video from the CBS This Morning show interesting. A California company called Newlight Technologies has developed a process for extracting carbon from the atmosphere to make plastic at efficiencies that seem to be making business sense. The company uses a proprietary biocatalyst to separate carbon from the air and reassemble it into long-chain polymer that can be used to create plastic products like furniture and plastic bags.

The idea of extracting carbon from the atmosphere is not new, but it’s interesting to see a commercial plant in operation, and Newlight seems to be getting some large companies as customers like Dell and KI. I’m not sure how competitive this method of plastic production is compared to traditional methods, but the environmental appeal is probably something that people and companies would be willing to pay a premium for.

Looking to the future, I would expect that this would be quite an energy intensive process, and as energy becomes cheaper, processes like this will become more cost effective and attractive from an economic, as well as an environmental standpoint.