Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sustainable Solutions - From Plastic To Fuel.

Plastic waste, the scourge of the environment - clogging landfills and responsible for the deaths of thousands of marine life every year - have been given a new lease of life through an exciting new technology which converts waste plastic into useable fuels and gases.

In what is a world's first, Enviro-Hub Holdings, a main-board listed waste management and recycling company in Singapore, has announced the construction of a S$50 million plastic-to-fuel commercial plant after researching for a long-term environmental solution for plastic waste since 2005.
Using a patented technology developed in India, for which Enviro-Hub holds an exclusive license, the company built a pilot plant that was able to revert plastics back to its constituent - oil. The technology heats waste plastic with a special catalyst that breaks it down into 85 per cent diesel, 10 per cent liquid petroleum gas and 5 per cent coke.

And the good news is that the diesel produced - unlike older technologies - will have a low sulphur content and lower carbon dioxide emissions. The heating process of converting the waste plastic into fuel will also be emissions-free.

Enviro-Hub's new facility will initially be able to take up to 100 tonnes of waste plastic a day and at about 30,000 tonnes a year, it will produce 20 million litres of diesel, four to five million kilograms of gas and 1,500 tonnes of coke. The plant will also be self-generating, using about 5 per cent of the fuel it produces to power itself with the rest being sold to other industries. There are also plans to expand the plant's capacity to handle up to 50,000 tonnes of plastic waste by the end of 2008.

With an estimated 4 billion tonnes of plastic waste discarded worldwide every year, the commercial potential is huge and Enviro-Hub's initiative will go a long way in coming to grips with plastic waste - a persistent environmental scourge - and is a great example of using technology to come up with sustainable solutions for environmental issues.

*Related post :
- The Convenient But Deadly Plastic Bag.

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cbahm said...

Interesting post. Do you think people and industries are ever going to adopt greener measures without the pressure from governmental mandates? Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up. How do you keep your passion for preserving the environment in the face of discouragement?

My Den said...

Hi cbahm,
Actually the commitment shown by individuals in adopting green measures, especially in Europe, far exceeds any initiatives by governments.

In a lot of cases, the local citizenry adopted green measures without the need for any legislations and achieved carbon reductions that exceeded the targets prescribed by the Kyoto Protocol. I do recommend you read another post of mine "Global Problems, Local Solutions" for examples of an active green citizenry.

Economic considerations and political reality, especially with the sway that powerful interests groups, like animal agriculture, oil and motor industry, also hampers the passing of green legislations by the the government of the day. The contentious Bali Climate talks, held recently, was a glaring example of how difficult it is to get governments to cooperate and agree on a common course of action. (Recommended read : The Kyoto Song & The Bali Dance.)

Having said that, I am a firm believer that it is efforts at the individual level that will have enormous impact on the environment and where the greatest contributions will come from.

You were spot-on about the difficulty of caring for the only home we will ever have in the face of indifference but I take comfort in the reality that it is a matter of time before the world wakes up, and tackling environmental issues become an urgent need vis-a-vis as cities become smog-filled and unliveable, water becomes increasingly polluted, extreme weather patterns, massive loss of biodiversity and our finite resources runs out.

You have made a wonderful comment and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, and I hope to hear from you again.