Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Waste-oil refinery eyes turning plastic bags into diesel

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A local company is considering adding plastic grocery bags to the waste products it hopes to convert to diesel fuel at a $1.4-million refinery it's building south of Winnipeg.

HD-Petroleum will start off converting waste motor oil into clean diesel fuel at the new refinery, being built adjacent to Miller Environmental Corp.'s hazardous waste facility on Highway 75, 70 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

Todd Habicht, HD-Petroleum president, said Wednesday the company is also interested in producing diesel fuel out of used plastic grocery bags.

He said the technology for doing that already exists; it's just a matter of determining if it would be economically feasible to do it in Manitoba.

Habicht said he's also hoping to build a bio-diesel production plant on the same site, to blend bio-diesel in with his fuel. He said he'll be looking to the provincial government for financial assistance.

That facility would produce bio-diesel fuel from waste vegetable or animal renderings. Provincial regulations require diesel fuel sold here to include at least two per cent bio-diesel fuel. Habicht said HD would rather make its own than buy it elsewhere.

Jim Crone, director of energy for the province's Department of Innovation, Energy and Mines, said while the department is considering ways to help HD with its refinery and bio-diesel projects, it hasn't yet discussed the plastic-bags issue.

"But we would certainly be interested in hearing what his proposal would be on that front," he said.

Habicht said a key issue would be whether HD could obtain an adequate supply of bags. Laurie Streich, director of the province's Pollution Prevention Branch, said about 300 million plastic bags are used in the province each year, and only some of them are being recycled into new plastic bags or plastic lumber.

Habicht said HD plans to begin assembling it at the new location by March. It should be fully operational by June or July, and will produce 1.2 million litres of diesel fuel in its first year and between six and eight new jobs for the area.

The output will be tiny, compared to the 1.1 billion litres of diesel fuel that is sold every year in Manitoba; a single large truck stop would probably sell about 20 million litres annually.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2009 B7

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