Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is a natural byproduct of agriculture, landfills, and energy facilities. Now California-based Newlight Technologies is turning methane into plastic. The company recently invented a breakthrough that allows them to make plastic at a lower cost than traditional oil-based techniques.


HERREMA: “Because our plastics are less expensive than oil-based plastics, that gives us a market-driven solution to climate change.”

That’s Newlight CEO and co-founder Mark Herrema. Plastic from Newlight’s facility is currently being used to make cellphone cases, bags, and furniture. The methane from one small dairy farm provides electricity for the farm and all of the natural gas the company uses. Herrema says he’s looking to expand the company in other locations near landfills, which also release methane. Herrema says this and other market-based initiatives will be part of the solution to climate change.

HERREMA: “If you think about carbon emissions in general, that’s a product of a strong growing world economy. Well, let’s harness that same engine to use greenhouse gas emissions as a resource. Personally, I think that that is how we can actually stand a chance at solving this problem.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: Newlight Technologies

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Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...