By: Brittney Ann Devey
When thinking about strong environmental action, developing a commercial process for manipulating plastics may not seem as important as driving a hybrid car or loud protesting over the development of wild lands.
CEO Priyanka Bakaya explaining her work.
Behind the scenes, PK Clean’s CEO Priyanka Bakaya is quietly going about developing a revolutionary process that, if fully adopted, could remove all plastics out of every landfill on the planet in the long run. Though she may not refer to herself as an environmentalist, Bakaya has made incredible strides on the pathway of environmentalism.
Waste is by far one of the largest issues across the globe. In a world run by consumerism, one can never have enough stuff in the package of convenience. The problem with this package of convenience is that it comes in the form of plastic, seven different types. Though #1 and #2 plastics, like soda bottles, are easier to recycle, it takes more energy and effort for the #3 through #7, which includes such diverse products as plastic bags and hard plastics like computer keyboards. Lucky for us, the size of the challenge has not deterred Ms. Bakaya working hard to develop the process that turns mountains of garbage into fuel we can use.
CEO Bakaya of PK Clean was inspired from a young age to change the world in the way of waste and to turn the process into a closed loop system. A close family friend Bakaya considered as a grandfather, Percy Kean, had entertained the idea over and over that waste didn’t need to be wasted. He had come up with several ideas for clean energy but never had the chance to test his ideas on a large scale. She felt inclined to share this knowledge with the world and to perfect it in a way that could be used to power the larger things in life.
PK Clean can turn roughly 10 tons of plastic into 60 barrels of oil when running at full capacity. The technique produces so much energy that she can power and heat the reactor in which the process takes place. Each barrel takes about $25-30 to make and PK Clean can sell them to refineries at $100 a barrel. The plastic is converted into 70-80% diesel and 10-20% natural gas, and each barrel is almost 100% sulfate free.
It is estimated that plastic use grows annually 8% in the United States. It truly is about time that we have found a way to use this ever growing waste collection, especially with only 7-8% of plastic being recycled in U.S. households. Hopefully this will cause more plastics to be recycled and put it to use
as fuel to reduce the rate of extraction of additional fossil fuels.
This revolutionary idea couldn’t have come to life without a revolutionary attitude. Bakaya was empowered in her childhood to do whatever she could and wanted; this has caused her to grow into a woman of power and self-awareness. She knows like anyone that it is hard to be perfectly sustainable but she puts effort in where she can. Being vegetarian, consciously shopping, and traveling in the most efficient form she can, she implements her good nature into everything she does.
Ms. Bakaya strives to do good work and encourages others to do the same. Along with her smarts, she has heart. She was quite nervous and unsure about how to get started in plastics recycling, even though she felt she should. She says “you always know more than you think you know” and even after taking that initial step to start her business, she wishes she would have done it sooner. While she could have started a few years earlier, the solutions that Priyanka Bakaya and her colleagues are creating can still help to save the world.
Brittney Ann Devey is a 2014 University of Utah graduate who majored in environmental studies. She is interviewed Utah business sustainability leaders as an intern with P3 Utah.