After the Food and Drug Administration issued a stern warning to manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages, the makers of Four Loko pulled the drink off shelves nationwide. Contrary to popular belief, however, that doesn’t mean the company is left with millions of cans of an unsellable product. In fact, the controversial drink can apparently be recycled into ethanol, which in turn can help power automobiles.
In November, the FDA cracked down on caffeinated beverages, citing the potential health risks of mixing alcoholic beverages with stimulants. Such beverages have reportedly been linked to alcohol poisoning, car accidents, and physical assaults. Phusion Products, the manufacturer of Four Loko, stopped manufacturing the drink on December 13, and a handful of other manufacturers followed suit.
Instead of trashing the leftover supplies, there appears to be some hope in recycling. MXI Enterprises, an ethanol recycler based in Richmond, Virginia, is now distilling and refining the alcohol contained within the beverage into ethanol, which in turn can be blended with gasoline for use as a vehicle fuel. Four Loko, for example, carries an alcohol content of roughly 6-12 percent by volume, depending on state regulations.
In an interview with the Associated Press, MXI vice president Brian Potter said the firm will receive roughly 200 truckloads, each containing roughly 2000 cases of the controversial drinks. The firm is allegedly capable of processing four truckloads a day, meaning MXI may be hard at work extracting ethanol for several months.
Although the ethanol repurposing may draw the biggest headlines, MXI will also recycle the aluminum and cardboard used to package and ship the buzz-inducing booze. According to the AP, aluminum recycled from the project will be used to make new cans, and arrive back on store shelves within 30 days.