Recycling efforts have fallen short and recent bans on the import of plastic by China and India are pushing Australia and other first world nations to rethink new ways to deal with the crisis.
According to the WWF’s Solving Plastic Through Accountability global plastic report, production of plastic reached 396 million metric tonnes in 2016, which is equivalent to 53kg of plastic for each person on the planet.
Out of this, at least eight million metric tonnes of plastic end up in oceans every year, which affects marine wildlife. Over the past few months alone, two whales were found dead in separate locations with a huge amount of plastic in their stomachs.
The use of plastics is continuing to grow at four per cent per annum, despite new found attention that the problem of end-of-life plastic has caused.
Plastics-to-fuel company Integrated Green Energy Solutions (IGES) is now calling on all parties to rethink the way they deal with end-of-life plastic.
IGES plays an important part in contributing to the circular economy by rethinking plastics as a valuable resource and extracting its maximum value to reduce leakage into natural environments.
“Recycling doesn’t work as well as we thought it would and the plastic pollution problem not only still persists, it is getting worse,” said Paul Dickson, IGES executive chairman.
“As recently reported by various media outlets, despite plastics being segregated at a house level, the costs are too high, and systems not sophisticated enough to do anything with the segregated plastic. The result, despite excellent community support and action, is that the plastic ends up in landfill, or worse, still spilled into our waterways.
“This is further aggravated by China and India’s plastic import ban, with South East Asian countries talking about following suit. These were previous channels for Australia to hide the plastic problem, but even these avenues are closed or in the process of closing.
“IGES’ patented in-house technology offers a sustainable solution to reduce plastic pollution to create a cleaner planet for the next generation. We do this by converting end-of-life plastic destined for landfill and waterways into high value, road-ready fuels that offer good margins.
“This is an important distinction as IGES is a profit-making entity that does not rely on government grants. This makes the IGES solution sustainable now and into the future.”
IGES already has a facility in Amsterdam that will go live in coming weeks and will be able to eventually process up to 400 tonnes per day of end-of-life, non-recyclable plastic to produce 140 million litres of fuel per annum. The fuel requires no further processing, blending or refining, and it will be used to fuel the boats that run in the channels of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was chosen as it is recognised as having some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world and boasts some of the world’s lowest waste to landfill rates.
“The thinking was that if Amsterdam approves our technology and solution then the rest of the world will surely accept it,” Dickson said.
“It is the community that must drive the solution. The collection and segregation of household waste is key. This is the hard bit and it’s already done in Australia.
“We can then support community efforts by giving a real, long-term solution. We’re not talking about technology that’s coming in a few years, we’re talking about proven technology that exists today, and we’ve already developed it.”
The fuel that IGES produces from end-of-life, non-recyclable plastic is cleaner compared to conventional diesel and meets international fuel standards EN590 (diesel) and EN228 (petrol). IGES technology is also the only one in the world that can deliver road-ready fuels without further blending, refining or additives.
Apart from the Amsterdam facility, IGES has a project in Thailand that has recently been approved by Thailand’s Board of Investment that will remove 66,000 tonnes per annum of end-of-life, non-recyclable plastics to produce 70 million litres of local road-ready fuel. Production of fuel from end-of-life plastics also means a reduced dependence on fossil fuels.
In Northampton, UK, IGES’s partner has obtained a draft permit for its site that will also produce 70 million litres of road-ready fuel from 200 tonnes of end-of-life, non-recyclable plastics per day.
“These are just some of our international projects and we’re committed to doing our part in supporting local communities in creating a world where pollution, especially from plastics, is buried deep in the history books,” Dickson said.
“We are not the hero of this story. The heroes are the mums, dads, kids, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties and friends who utilise our solution to give our children and their children thereafter a world free of the environmental problems that we have to grapple with today.
“Tackling the issue of plastic pollution needs immediate and urgent attention, and we need to achieve this goal by working together.”