You may remember the relative chaos over Four Loko, the energy drink that contains up to 12% alcohol, which debuted in US markets in 2005 and provoked a warning letter from the FDA this past November. The FDA called the caffeine and alcohol combination an "unsafe food additive" and said that further action, including seizure of the offending products, could occur under federal law. Well, instead of turning the happy combination of alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana (hence the four in the product's name) into a frat party punch bowl, wiser grown-ups have decided to turn the stuff into ethanol. Wow. Somebody might have finally found an actual use for Jägermeister.
Since the crackdown on energy drinks, a name which is now nicely literal, wholesalers from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and other East Coast states have started sending cases of Four Loko and other alcohol-spiked energy drinks to MXI Environmental Services in Virginia. According to the AP and the American Coalition for Ethanol, MXI Enterprises is one of three facilities in the U.S. that recycle ethanol.
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Brian Potter, vice president of operations at MXI's Virginia facility, said that he's expecting a few hundred truckloads, holding 2,000 cases each, of the energy drinks. Potter also said that his competitors are also taking shipments. At MXI, the offending drinks will have the alcohol distilled from them, then the fuel will be blended into gasoline. The aluminum cans are sold to a recycler; the water, cardboard packaging and shipping pallets are also recycled. Sounds like the perfect place for errant college students -- and not a few problematic former Hollywood child stars -- to get a summer internship. A lot cheaper than Betty Ford.