Proving that second chances do exist, the demonized blend of alcohol and caffeine known as Four Loko has found new life at the fuel pump. Following concerns that alcohol and caffeine combined were more harmful than when taken separately, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned drinks that mix the two substances on 17 November.
But Maumee Express, Inc., a transportation and waste disposal company, has agreed to take unsold cases of Four Loko from wholesalers in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and other East Coast states to their recycling facility in Abingdon, Virginia for conversion into ethanol. The company will then sell the fuel to be blended into gasoline.
The facility normally processes waste from industrial alcohol and drug manufacturing, perfumeries, and food additive and flavoring companies, as well as beer and wine that’s past its expiration, says Ron Potter, an MXI spokesman.
The company will go beyond just reprocessing the liquid itself into a new product. “Everything associated with the beverage is recycled,” says Potter, including any aluminum, glass, cardboard, and plastic that comes through the plant. The company plans to convert approximately 1 million cases of Four Loko to ethanol in the next year, which Potter estimates to be between one-third and one-half of the remaining supply.