July 15 - A Filipino inventor has found a way to turn plastic waste into fuel for vehicles. Jayme Navarro is not claiming to have invented the process but he says, in the Philippines where landfills are the size of large hills, it's a practical solution to a major problem. Elly Park reports.
There's no shortage of plastic waste in the chronically polluted Philippines. But now, one company - Polygreen Technology and Resources - is putting the waste plastic to good use, by turning it into fuel. Much of the plastic comes from Manila's mountainous Payatas landfill, where the city's poorest residents eke out a living collecting and selling the trash. It ends up at Polygreen's plant nearby, where founder Jayme Navarro exposes it to a process called pyrolysis. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLYGREEN TECHNOLOGY AND RESOURCES INVENTOR JAYME NAVARRO SAYING: "By pyrolysis, we can decompose plastic into diesel, gasoline and kerosene." Navarro says the process is simple. First plastic waste is placed on a conveyor belt for shredding and drying. Then it's put into an air-tight thermal chamber for decomposition. Inside, the granulated plastic gets melted into vapors that are distilled into this - a golden liquid that is chemically identical to regular fuel. Only, it's better says the company, as pollutants from the incineration process are minimal and the quality of the fuel is cleaner due to its low sulfur content. It's also 10 to 20 percent cheaper than regular fuel because of large supply of plastic waste and lower production cost. Right now the plastic fuel is approved for industrial use and is being tested for vehicles, with promising results. This one factory can produce around 1,600 litres of fuel from two metric tonnes of plastic wastes daily. In Manila alone 10 million people produce an estimated 6,000 tonnes of trash a day. While plastic-fuel technology isn't anything new Navarro believes that an industrial scale version of his technology could not only help drivers on the road but help the country dig itself out of its trash problem. Elly Park, Reuters.