For a long time, disposing of plastics in an environmental- friendly has proven to be rather difficult. This is so because in their very nature, plastic are simply non bio- degradable, seeing that they are manmade. And because man wants a strong long- lasting material, plastic materials are made to last for as long as five hundred years.
You can imagine the shock of residents near a southern Australian beach, when as they were cleaning up the beach, discovered a plastic container that is probably several decades old. The container in question was of the kind which McDonald’s used to put burgers in a long time ago. In fact, such containers were last used in 1991. This means that this container is probably 25 years old if not older. And mind you, the container was as good as new. This only goes to prove how difficult it can be to completely destroy plastics, and how long lasting they can be.
The dangers of plastic waste are well known and people have been rightly sensitized about them. However, this does little to solve the problem because plastics are still an integral part of everyday life for most people. People still get things wrapped in plastic, and the pollution cycle continues. This apparently difficult problem inspired a professor from the University of Sidney, Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, to try finding a lasting solution to it.
Maschmeyer’s solution is simple- use the plastic waste as a source of energy. Brilliant, isn’t it? But in order for this end to be achieved, there is plenty that needs to be done. Maschmeyer has an energy start up named Licella, whose objective is to build the best commercial hydrothermal waste upgrading plant.
He has partnered with Renewable Chemical Technologies Ltd to aid him with the research. RCTL in return has received financial backing by a UK energy investor. Licella intends to make plants that can convert this plastic waste into high quality oil. This oil should ideally be able to work well with other hydrocarbon fuels.
Once the first plant has been successfully made, it will be shipped to the UK where it will be integrated with an existing facility. This is however only the first part of the plan, because Licella intends to make many other such plants.
Maschmeyer’s idea to transform plastic waste into bio- crude petroleum is certainly a great one. This might just earn him the honor of being the man who saved us from the nuisance of plastic waste when it was an overwhelming problem, and better still, used that waste in a very productive way.