What if I Told You There’s a Future in Unrecyclable Plastic?

Arturo-Santiago-Blog

I have always dreamed of traveling to Amsterdam. I want to see the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Heineken Experience, among so many other things. I just found out about another thing I want to see in Amsterdam.

It’s a new factory that’s being built in the Port of Amsterdam that uses new technology that takes plastic which traditionally was deemed unrecyclable, and uses it to make fuel for diesel-powered cargo ships.

According to marinelink.com, Dutch company Bin2Barrel was founded in 2012 and is the first company to be able to use the chemical recycling technology commercially.

The online report says:

“Thanks to a partnership with the Port of Amsterdam and a grant from the Dutch government, the plant is expected to begin operations by the end of 2018. If all goes well, this will be the first of four such ‘plastic to fuel’ factories to be built near the port. In the initial year, it’s estimated that 35,000 tonnes of garbage will be converted into 30 million litres of fuel, giving value to materials that would otherwise go to waste.

The project provides a multitude of environmental benefits across the entire value chain. The Port of Amsterdam estimates an annual 57,000 tonnes reduction of CO2 emissions.”

And of course if it has to do with plastic, it has to do with waste management:

“The most obvious benefit is in waste disposal. Plastic used by the factories is not suitable for traditional recycling and until now it was either burnt or ended up in landfills. By converting it to fuel, the plastic gets a new life and doesn’t enter the environment as trash.”

And:

“Critics of waste to energy argue that this sort of technology impedes the growth of truly renewable forms of power, such as solar and wind. However, the proponents of such recycling models argue that factories such as these are necessary, as they offer a more environmentally friendly option than those reliant on fossil fuels and at the same time address the ever growing plastic pollution challenge.”

Are you starting to see a circle form here? Perhaps even a circular economy?

I like the idea of producing goods that are made from a material that we know for a fact can be broken down into its various chemical components and then taking those components to make more goods.

For now, however, if Bin2Barrel is looking for more plastic to convert, someone please let them know there is a source that’s twice the size of Texas floating adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

Please, tell me…what is your vision of a truly circular economy?  GX_bug_web

Comments
  • Brad Whitty.

    Great article and this technology has been around for about a decade. There was a United Nations video published from Japan demonstrating turning plastics into oil, with a machine capable of generating small quantities, so they could be distributed to developing countries. I found this site that I believe is part of this effort. http://www.unido.or.jp/en/technology_db/1613/

    Reply
  • geodeveloper.

    This seems like a progressive step forward in our global miasma with petrochem byproducts. If the greed of status quo energy politics don’t interfere with the potential advance of this technology, then I can only hope that it will be an exceptionally useful mechanism allowing us to bridge over and into the more benign energy sources awaiting future use for our society. It’s tragic that we have to “hope” for such environmental fixes, but that’s the state of reality when it comes to finally riding ourselves of the fossil fuel industry and it’s ongoing crimes against humanity and the planet upon which we all survive.

    Reply
  • DJ. WELLS.

    Arturo, I wish I could just email you personally about this, as this is a serious question. How would one buy stock in this and how could it be brought to the States?
    Meantime, I have been a long time subscriber to your publications and also have taken many of the Forester U courses for my P.E. license. Great service you are providing to us and the industry at large, as well as for the benefit of all the citizens who are clueless to how they get their water, and where all the dirty water and trash goes.

    Reply
  • DJ. WELLS.

    Another comment regarding recyclable plastics is about my brother’s recycle plant near Charlotte, NC which he oversees. A big article in the newspaper about it may be in jeopardy because the resale value of recyclables has been affected by Americans’ seeming inability to separate trash from recyclables. How about the problem on an international scale with China, too, because of “tainted material”? What is wrong here? I have see recycling closed down in our local college because college level educated students are not following the instructions properly. I have seen it on my city streets where garbage is routinely put in the recycle containers and RECYCLABLES IN THE GARBAGE RIGHT NEXT TO IT. How to address this problem? Seems some human engineering is in order somehow?

    Reply
  • Fritz Regner, EEI RECYCLING, Inc..

    Unfortunately, Single Stream MRF collection is a nightmare for the plastics recovery industry. We did it right in the early days of with “human sort lines”!

    Reply

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