While denaturing plastics is a relatively common practice, the compact Blest machine simplifies the process to a “safe to use at home” degree. Claiming to be the safest, cleanest and most user-friendly form yet, inventor Akinori Ito’s portable Blest machine converts plastic waste back into usable oil with just a temperature-controlling electric heater.
A video of the machine in action shows how several features set Blest apart from similar machines. By using the electric heater in place of a flame, plastic melts but since nothing is directly burned, the machine doesn’t release CO2 or other toxins that come from incinerating trash. Most importantly, the machine is small enough to fit on a countertop, allowing fuel generation to take place anywhere from a warehouse to a family room.
Ito’s goal was to address the issue of overwhelming plastic waste. A landscape like Japan suffers from the lack of places to put garbage; plastics from there and almost every other country around the world end up in landfills or in the ocean (see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch). By creating a machine that allows the user to take everyday waste and make something as useful as fuel, the project shows people the value of garbage and also the value of recycling. Ito has introduced the machine and these concepts to schools around Japan, educating children about the potential that “garbage” holds.
The fuel produced from the plastic conversion process can be put to use immediately for stoves and generators, or can be further refined to be used as gasoline to power vehicles. While the end product still involves the burning of fossil fuels (and therefore damage to the environment) by converting the plastic back into oil as opposed to burning or dumping it, there is an massive overall net loss in the amount of C02 released into the environment. Another impressive benefit, by producing your own fuel locally you remove the carbon footprint that comes from transporting petroleum from distant countries.
The current tabletop model can convert one kilo of plastic into one liter of oil, and can sells from Blest for $9,500.