Plastic: is it the New Black Gold?
According to the report from the Ministry of environment, Mauritius produces some 120 tons of plastic wastes daily amounting to a total of 43,800 tons of waste every year of which only 4%, representing some 164 tons, are recycled. In 2006, the population’s consumption of non-biodegradable plastic products amounted to some 70 million Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles, 7 million PVC bottles, and 113 million plastic bags.
Now just imagine a process able to clear our environment of plastic wastes, creating jobs in waste management and collection and at the same time bringing useful resources such as petrol and gas, which can be beneficial to our economy. The Liquid Hydrocarbons pilot project proposed by the Green Hydrocarbons (Mtius) Ltd has the ambitious desire of turning our plastic wastes into hydrocarbon petrol.
The environment friendly project, realized with the collaboration of the initiators of the project in India, Unique Waste Plastic Management & Research CO. Pvt. Ltd., will enable Mauritius to get rid of its plastic wastes while at the same time providing resources such as petrol. The initiator of the project will bring all the technology and equipment necessary for the setting of the pilot plant while the government, in collaboration with Green Hydrocarbons Ltd., will provide the necessary location and licenses.
The ratio of the conversion of the plastic waste into petrol is one kilogram of plastic into the volume of 1000 cc of petrol. The pilot project will hence be converting some 2.5 tons of plastic wastes daily into some 25,000 liters of petrol and other by-products. This project is a green alternative to the palliative solutions that have been found so far to deal with plastic wastes. Land filling, incineration, recycling, gasification and blast furnace have shown their limits in the treatment of plastic wastes.
Recycling is unfortunately not a practical solution in that the cost of collection is quite high; there is a limited market for it, with an absence of marketing. Moreover, plastic can only be recycled three to four times, after that it loses its strength and can’t be recycled. The project realized with the collaboration of Indian partners is due to start in the course of the year 2007, once the EIA obtained.
The concepts of plastic conversion into hydrocarbons was elaborated by Professor Alka Zadgaonkar of the Raisoni College of Engineering, Nagpur in Indian, in the year 1995. While giving a lecture on Applied Chemistry, she came up with the idea of turning plastic back into hydrocarbons. She worked with a team on the formula and in 2004; they succeeded in turning 300mg of plastic into hydrocarbon liquids.
Unique Waste Plastic Management & Research Co. Pvt. Ltd of India later launched a pilot project where some 5,000 tons of plastic wastes were converted everyday. The process was later extended to treat 25,000 tons daily in 2006 and the objective of the project is to treat some 450,000 tons. She asked for analysis by Indian Oil and made a number of recommendations for the use of the final products.
After about one year of operation, the project was realized with the help of loans. Representatives of the State Bank of India acknowledged that the project is already running on profit, thus proving the efficiency of the method. The world produces no less than 60% more plastic wastes than it did some ten years back with a production of 100 million tons every year. India produces 10,000 tons of plastic wastes everyday which 40% are recycled.
This project has enabled India to better manage the country’s plastic wastes while at the same time creating jobs. Actually India sells its hydrocarbon at 40% to 50% less than normal diesel. The technology is presently being exported to other regions such as Rajasthan and even to America; for instance, some hospitals are being operated using their own wastes.
The investments for the pilot project in Mauritius are estimated to around 100 to 300 millions Rupees. Land filling, incineration and recycling 4% are presently being used but they do not resolve the problem of environmental damage caused by plastic. The Waste to Compost project, will however give a new dimension to the processing of plastic in that hydrocarbon and the other by-products used as compost.
About the author: André Lee is the Internet Marketing consultant, Advisors to Tour Operators and Ticketing Agents. More of his articles are available at http://mauritravel.com
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