four loko

It’s only mildly disconcerting to think that a widely available beverage could be converted into gasoline, right? Regardless of how scary the implications, it is in fact true. Since the ban on Four alcoholic energy drinks in many states, a company in Abingdon, Virginia has been making good use of the excess beverage by turning it into ethanol using the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Since the launch in 2005, Four has been the center of controversy because of its ingredients: alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana (as well as carbonated water, sugar and flavoring). Dubbed “blackout in a can” with effects that give you a “wide-awake drunk” feeling, Four has been abused by college students resulting in injuries, blackouts and even deaths, resulting in some state-wide bans.

Now, wholesalers from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and other East Coast States have been buying back the canned drinks from retailers to get them off the shelves and sending them by the truck-full to MXI Environmental Services. The company distills the alcohol from the drinks then sells the fuel to be blended with gasoline for cars… and they’ve been busy! MXI is equipped to process four truckloads a day (there are about 2,000 cases per truckload), and they are currently at full capacity.

The recycling doesn’t stop there though. Instead of sending anything to the landfill, MXI sells the aluminum cans to a recycler where it takes only 30 days to be back on the shelves as a new beer can. They also recycle the drinks’ water, cardboard packaging, and shipping pallets.

image: House of Sims