A machine that converts waste plastic into crude oil is operating at a recycling depot in Whitehorse.

The machine is the first of its kind in North America.

Project manager Andy Lera first read about what he calls the "amazing" machine more than a year ago. He read that a Japanese man who was tired of seeing so much waste plastic being burned had found a relatively inexpensive way of converting plastic to crude oil.

Lera pitched the idea to Cold Climate Innovation at Yukon College’s research centre. The centre convinced the federal government to share in the cost, which is around $200,000.

The machine is now running at P & M Recycling.

 "We're going to try it out in our own furnaces and run it in our furnace and waste oil furnaces. Any furnace that has a tank inside can use this stuff, but of course we're going to test run it here first to make sure," said P&M Recycling owner Pat McInroy.

McInroy said people in Whitehorse throw away more than 900,000 kilograms of waste plastics every year. The machine can turn 10 kilograms of plastic into 10 litres of synthetic diesel.

"I do believe it can pay for itself, but I also believe it takes care of a larger problem, which is the waste plastics that are quite frankly getting thrown in the garbage. Now if we can close the loop on that, I think that's every recycler’s goal," said McInroy.

Lera said the machine will stay at P & M for the next two years for testing and McInroy will use the oil to heat his plant. He said it should work in any furnace which has an inside tank.

 After the test period, they will review the project to see if they need a bigger machine.