Plastic wastes clogging the sewers was one of the factors blamed for the floods that devastated Metro Manila in the recent spate of typhoons.
Being non-biodegradable, plastics tend to linger in the environment for a very long time, causing a lot of harm in the process. Now a company using technology developed decades ago might provide the solution to the plastic waste problem.
Thirty years ago, inventor Jayme Navarro developed a process of creating fuels like gasoline, diesel, and gas from plastic. However, due to the low price of fuel in the 1970’s, the fuel produced was not cost-competitive.
But in 2007, fuel prices skyrocketed, prompting Ana Po, owner of Fame plastics factory and Navarro’s sister, to revisit her brother’s invention.
In 2008, the company Polygreen was established to utilize Navarro’s technology; it’s a process called pyrolysis, or the burning of substances without using oxygen. The technology works by taking any type of shredded plastic and subjecting it to pyrolysis in a conversion chamber that breaks down the molecular bonds of the plastics, reverting them to their primary ingredient, hydrocarbons or fuel.
The chamber can accommodate any type of plastic—polystyrene, PVC, PET, even Styrofoam.
To commercialize the technology, a pilot plant in Montalban, Rizal is being built and expected is to go online early this year. Created in cooperation with the government of Rizal, the plant can process five tons of waste per day. The technology has an 80 percent conversion rate for plastics; in other words, it can produce 4,000 liters of fuel.
Of that output, 70 percent is diesel, 25 percent is natural gas, and five percent is gasoline. According to Erwin Po, Ana’s son, the production cost of fuel from plastics is economically competitive with commercial fuel and is actually slightly cheaper. The fuel, he says, passes environmental standards and the diesel produced from plastic actually burns cleaner than conventional diesel.