Car Engines Now Guzzling Four Loko

Four Loko, the controversial alcoholic energy drink recently banned in five states is now being recycled into fuel.

After the FDA cracked down on Four Loko in November, wholesalers from Virginia, North Carolina and other East Coast states purchased unused stocks from retailers. They began to ship truck-loads of the drink to MXI Environmental Services in Virginia to be recycled into ethanol, which will later be mixed with gasoline for fuel. According to MXI's website, this transformation only takes five steps.

MXI is one of three facilities in the U.S. that recycles ethanol, according to the American Coalition for Ethanol. Brian Potter, vice president of operations at MXI's Abingdon, Va., facility, said a couple hundred truckloads of the drinks are expected to come to the plants. Trucks carry around 2,000 cases of 23.5-ounce cans.

The process used by MXI is environmentally friendly, as the only waste is a concentrate generated by the water by-products. In addition to distilling the liquids, the organization also sells the cans to a recycling plant and recycles the drink's water, cardboard packaging and shipping pallets. According to Potter, it takes only 30 days for the recycled cans to be back on the shelf.

"It's great that people are taking the time to make sure everything in a Four Loko drink gets recycled and put to use instead of being dumped somewhere and harming the environment," LSP freshman Anthony Caruso said.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association did not give distributors specific instructions for the disposal of the banned drinks.

"Because distributors hold a state license, they are required to comply with regulations handed down by the state and can act quickly to ensure that dangerous product is removed from the marketplace," NBWA spokeswoman Kathleen Joyce said.

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control plays a role in ensuring that the disposal of the unsafe products is compliant with the commonwealth's alcohol laws.

"When an alcoholic product is discontinued and destroyed, the process is documented, reviewed and confirmed by special agent with the ABC's Bureau of Law Enforcement and an affidavit is sent to the wholesaler to verify the products have been legally destroyed," spokesman Philip Bogenberger said.

Potter assures that their ethanol meets all ASTM qualifications for fuel-grade ethyl alcohol.

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