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From carpet to crude oil: New Dalton venture creates high expectations

Dalton — Clean Energy Conversions, a new Dalton business that will take 400,000 tons of carpet waste and turn it into synthetic crude oil, will be in operation by early 2012 employing around 20 people.

“We are very excited to be here,” Brett KenCairn, president of Community Energy Systems, told the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority recently. “When we started looking for waste carpet, all roads pointed to Dalton.”

The Joint Development Authority passed a resolution authorizing the company to sell tax-free bonds worth $13 million with the intent of investing about $2.5 million of its own into the Clean Energy Conversions project. KenCairn said the money will be used to build a facility at the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority and to purchase equipment to extract plastic from the carpet waste and then turn the plastic into crude oil.

“We have the largest stockpile of carpet waste in the United States,” said executive director, Norman Barashick of the 400,000 tons of carpet waste it has been storing since the 1990s. “We’ve always believed there would eventually be some sort of value in the waste.”

KenCairn said the facility would launch with the conversion of carpet waste, but eventually would include other plastic waste. The conversion process uses plastic Nos. 3 through 7, which are not easily recyclable. The company has worked to perfect the extraction process over the past year, he said. “It is a very sophisticated extraction process but we have proved it is viable.”

Once Clean Energy Conversions builds its facility, the authority will provide access to the carpet waste and facilitate transferring incoming waste to the new business.

Elyse Cochran, executive director of the authority, said Dalton has received numerous inquiries from companies interested in recycling the carpet waste, but Clean Energy Conversions has shown it has the technology to move forward. “We have been very impressed by the company,” Cochran said. “They are established and have proven they have the technology. This will diversify our job base.”