“This is a much needed solution,” Bakaya says. “Our aim is to get it in as many places as possible.”
Founder Priyanka Bakaya launched PK Clean Technologies while studying Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MIT. Bakaya has always been passionate about the environment and has cared about recycling since childhood, in part because of the influence of Percy Kean, a family friend and inventor who worked to create alternative energy.
When Kean passed away in 2007, Bakaya took some of his initial work and commercialized it, and named her company PK Clean in his honor. The clean refers to the clean energy PK Clean Technologies produces.
PK Clean Technologies takes plastic waste that can’t be recycled, shreds it down to the size of confetti, feeds it into a reactor, and applies heat to break down the solid plastic. The solids become liquids and the liquids become vapors which when cooled become fuel. The entire process is oxygen free and creates zero emissions.
Bakaya explains that only 9% of plastics get recycled, because while plastics Type 1 and Type 2 are easily identifiable, most other plastics are of a type too difficult to determine, making them too difficult to recycle. So PK Clean Technologies works with recycling companies to collect whatever is left at their end of their lines (types 3–7) and turns those plastics into fuel.
After winning a number of awards and graduating from MIT, Bakaya moved her business to Utah. “I realized it was the perfect place,” Bakaya says. “There’s a good ecosystem and support from both [Salt Lake] city and state. Utah is very business friendly.”
Her first reactor is on the west side of Salt Lake and she plans to build the next in Canada. “This is a much needed solution,” Bakaya says. “Our aim is to get it in as many places as possible.”