Dresden company transforms plastic waste into fuel
Every year, more than 6 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Germany alone. While some is recycled, millions of tonnes is still exported abroad, where it is either burned, left to rot in uncontrolled dumps, or finds its way into the oceans. By 2050, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that the mass of plastic waste in the sea could be larger than that of fish.
Imagine if we could find a better use for all that plastic - like transforming it into a fuel source, for instance. Well, a company based in Dresden in Germany has just completed a prototype for a machine that can do just that. Soon we might be driving with fuel created from plastic waste!
WASTX Plastic turns 1kg of plastic into 1L of fuel
After six years of research and development, WASTX Plastic has just unveiled a prototype for a machine capable of transforming plastic waste that is no longer recyclable into fuel - around 250 kilograms of it per day. “One kilo of plastic makes around a litre of fuel,” says the founder and CEO of the Biofabrik group, Oliver Riedel. “We are sitting on one of the largest oil fields in the world.”
Although the machine in its grey container, fitted with a multitude of shredders, pipes and tanks, looks somewhat futuristic, it actually works using a process, pyrolysis, that is relatively well-known. Under zero-oxygen conditions, Riedel and his team heat the shredded plastic waste up to a temperature of 500 degrees, to filter out waste such as sand and salt. At the end, a dark, viscous liquid drips out: royal jelly.
A global solution to plastic waste
In Riedel’s vision, WASTX Plastic would work together will hotels and municipalities to clean up litter-strewn beaches. Tourists and locals would be invited to throw their plastic waste into garbage bags and would receive, in return, a small sum. This might be transferred via PayPal or directly into their bank account. “Then maybe people would start picking up more plastic on the beach,” he says.
Not only would the overall amount of plastic waste shrink, but fuel would also be produced at the same time, and could be used to power ships or generators. The solution to the plastic problem would therefore also bring even greater benefits to communities: “Many islands that have a plastic waste problem also have an energy problem,” Riedel explains.
The first WASTX Plastic machine will soon be running at a packaging plant in Flensburg, where around 1.000 kilograms of plastic waste is created per day. Riedel is also in discussion with local dealers in 35 countries, and already has contracts in Australia, Japan, the USA, Korea and Turkey. By the end of the year, he intends to be operating in the 20 largest industrialised countries, under the motto, “Trash to cash”.
Thumb: WASTX Plastic