A controversial plastics pyrolysis plant in Georgia, which would have been the world's largest such location, will not be developed.
In the process of unwinding the deal, Brightmark Energy also revealed the company has yet to deliver end product to any "offtakers" from the company's existing pyrolysis plant in Indiana.
Both Brightmark Energy and the Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority are walking away from the proposed $680 million idea following months of opposition in Georgia, including a local mayor who withdrew support earlier this year.
Brightmark and the authority "reached the conclusion that without local support, the project would not be in the interest of either company or authority." Both sides signed a termination agreement April 5.
It was almost a year ago that Brightmark agreed to purchase 60 to almost 125 acres from the authority in the Airport North Industrial Park in Macon.
Even when Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller said the chemical recycling project was "simply not worth it for us" in early January, Brightmark still held out hope the project would continue to move forward. Miller's opposition was noteworthy as he is also a member of the authority's board.
The company, despite the mayor's stance, made a $100,000 payment to the authority in late January to avoid termination of the land purchase agreement. That payment was due because Brightmark had told the authority Dec. 31 that it had not met its "demonstrated commercial operations obligations" required by the agreement. The land deal would have terminated without the $100,000 "outside date extension payment," the newly released termination agreement states.
"As a condition of authority's obligation to convey the property under the PSA, [the] company was obligated to deliver assurance and documentation reasonably acceptable to authority demonstrating [the] company's ability to proceed with the development of the project by showing that company's affiliated processing facility in Ashley, Ind., was able to deliver end product to one or more offtakers," the termination agreement states.
The company, around the same time as the $100,000 payment in January, indicated an eagerness to "demonstrate the overwhelmingly positive effects" of its technology and the Georgia project.
Brightmark, with its current site in Ashley using pyrolysis, wanted to create a second, much larger location with the same technology. The 5.3 million-square-foot location would have been the world's largest pyrolysis facility for plastics, the company said.
The project would have relied on $500 million in bonds issued by the authority to help pay for the project. The company, not the authority, would have assumed financial responsibility for repaying the money raised through the bonds.
Pyrolysis has been around for decades and is viewed by some as a way to unlock the value of hard-to-recycle plastics. While the technology is proven, the long-term economic viability of the widespread use of pyrolysis remains to be seen.
Pyrolysis is a form of chemical recycling, where plastics are heated in the absence of oxygen to create hydrocarbons that can then be used to make various products, including naphtha, fuels and waxes. Pyrolysis, sometimes called advanced recycling, differs from traditional and less expensive mechanical recycling where resins are commonly segregated by type, shredded, cleaned, melted and used again, all while remaining plastics throughout the process.
The two sides are walking away while releasing each other from obligation. The authority, however, does get to keep the recent $100,000 payment.
The two sides agreed to keep the terms of the termination confidential, "except as may be required by law," according to the agreement. Both sides also agreed to not disparage the company or the project. The agreement came to light after The Macon Newsroom, a nonprofit media outlet, made an open records request.
"Authority's formal statement as to the termination of the contracts and company's potential relocation to another jurisdiction shall be as follows: 'Macon-Bibb County, the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority and Brightmark have mutually agreed to end discussions around building a plastic recycling plant in Macon. No outstanding issues remain,'" the termination agreement states.