Banned alcoholic energy drinks are being converted into ethanol to fuel cars in the US.
Four Loko and other similar high-caffeine beverages have been removed from the shelves after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cracked down on the drinks, labelling them “unsafe”.
According to an AP report, a “couple of hundred truckloads” of the drinks will be sent to the MXI Environmental Services plant in Virginia to be recycled. Each truck holds around 2000 cases of the drinks, which are packaged in 23.5-ounce cans (around 700ml, or just less than a bottle of wine).
MXI vice president of operations at the Abingdon plant, Brian Potter, said his was just one of three facilities taking delivery of the banned beverages.
“We’re equipped to process four truckloads a day, and we’re at full capacity,” Mr Potter told AP.
“There are about 30 different products involved, and we’ve only seen a couple of them at this point. It could go on for several months.”
MXI extracts the alcohol from the drinks and on-sells it to be blended with petrol to fuel vehicles. The cans, water and cardboard packaging are also recycled, and according to Mr Potter, it takes just 30 days until the cans are reborn as beer cans.
In November, the FDA sent letters to four manufacturers warning them of the effects of their products, which have a dangerous combination of caffeine and alcohol and can lead to consumers (often young people) entering a state known as “wide-awake drunk”. Health experts believe the added caffeine affects a consumer’s awareness of their intoxication, leading them to drink more than they generally would, and often pass out.
FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, confirmed the drinks had been linked to car accidents and alcohol poisoning.
All four companies removed their products from the shelves and are now modifying their ingredients.