Plastic Waste – There’s lots of work to do!
In a matter of a few more difficult months in the USA….The Whole World Will Be “Back On Track” to continue the work with waste and more, solving our climate challenges.
In this post:
The Oil&Gas industry thought plastics would make a lot of business
#1 Turning plastic waste into hydrogen and high-value carbons
#2 Enzyme That Breaks Down Plastic Bottles in Hours – Carbios
#3 Waste Plastic Upcycle Businesses – Opportunities!
#4 What if there was a system that could take value from Rubbish? UBQ
…a list at the bottom of other posts about Waste Wealth
The Oil&Gas industry thought plastics would make a lot of business and convinced the commercial world to use it, and use it, and use it some more. Now we have 14 million tonnes of microplastics on the sea floor.
Are you looking for a GREEN recovery project to make a living/start a business after the pandemic? Can your facility/Business use one of the solutions in this post?
Choose your pick: 4Ocean or the Ocean Cleanup’s interceptor or any of the many organizations worldwide that collect plastics in rivers and on beaches, before the plastic can get into the ocean….
These are very important operations and they are looking for more people who want to work with them and/or operate their collection machines!
In collaboration with colleagues at universities and institutions in the UK, China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, researchers in the Edwards/ Xiao group at Oxford’s Department of Chemistry have developed a method of converting plastic waste into hydrogen gas [which can be used as a clean fuel], and high-value solid carbon. This was achieved with a new type of catalysis developed by the group which uses microwaves to activate catalyst particles to effectively ‘strip’ hydrogen from polymers.
The findings, published in Nature Catalysis, detail how the researchers mixed mechanically-pulverised plastic particles with a microwave-susceptor catalyst of iron oxide and aluminium oxide. The mixture was subjected to microwave treatment. [Within 30 to 90 sec.] yielded a large volume of hydrogen gas and a residue of carbonaceous materials, mostly identified as carbon nanotubes.
This rapid one-step process for converting plastic to hydrogen and solid carbon significantly simplifies the usual processes of dealing with plastic waste and demonstrates that over 97% of hydrogen in plastic can be extracted in a very short time, in a low-cost method with no CO2 burden.
Professor Peter Edwards said: ‘It opens up an entirely new area of catalysis in terms of selectivity and offers a potential route to the challenge of the plastic waste Armageddon, particularly in developing countries as one route to the hydrogen economy – effectively enabling them to leap-frog [directly to Hydrogen energy].
The idea for this very ‘applied science’ advance has its origins in a deeply ‘pure science’ project – the deep understanding of the science of the Size-Induced Metal to Insulator Transition (SIMIT), a topic that the Edwards group has studied for many years. The idea is that if one fragments a piece of highly-conducting metal into smaller and smaller pieces, is there a stage (i.e. a critical size of particle), at which it stops behaving as a metal?
Read the full paper, ‘Microwave-initiated catalytic deconstruction of plastic waste into hydrogen and high-value carbons’ in Nature Catalysis.
Utilizing an enzyme found within composted leaves, scientists are now breaking down plastic all the way into a recyclable form in a matter of hours.
Carbios, the French company responsible for the breakthrough, is already collaborating with Pepsi and L’Oréal to unleash industrial market-scale production of the new substance within five years.
“We are the first company to bring this technology on the market,” the deputy chief executive at Carbios, Martin Stephan, told The Guardian. “Our goal is to be up and running by 2024–2025, at large industrial scale.”
In the scientist’s paper published in Nature, they detail how poly(ethylene terephthalate) PET, the most common polyester plastic, loses much of its mechanical [properties] when heated for recycling [and therefore less useful – only for]. Creating new material is preferred, therefore PET waste continues to accumulate.
Their new enzyme achieves a minimum of 90% de-polymerization in just 10 hours, meaning that the polymers—large complex particles, become monomers—small single particles in less than a day, and perhaps even more amazing, end up as biologically depolymerized plastic that can actually be reused to create things like plastic bottles. [The PET recycled by thermomechanical means is only good enough for clothing and carpets, not bottles.]
While manufacturing plastic bottles from recycled PET made by this enzyme would cost about 4% of the amount needed to make new bottles from fresh petroleum, the recycling infrastructure, including the grInding-up and heating of the plastic bottles before the enzyme is added would still make it more expensive in the end. [Scaling up should lower the expense.]
Carbios has also begun tackling the normally unrecyclable plastic film problem. In an alliance with several other European companies under the name Carbiolice, they demonstrated a plastic film last year that can be compostable in home or municipal compost piles.
I only ask if Carbios has closed-the-loop by examining how their decomposed plastics are used by the microbes and animals in nature.
People are removing plastic waste, but we do not see any significant reduction in the amount of waste around us.
Waste Plastic is a Resource!
We are Precious Plastic a global community of hundreds of people working towards solutions to plastic pollution.
Knowledge, tools and techniques are shared online, for free.
……So everyone can start (yes, you too!).
Scary? This short video will give you lots and lots of courage!
#4 What if there was a system that could up-cycle even unwanted Trash? All garbage?
“With the food residue too,” boasts co-founder and CEO Jack ‘Tato’ Bigio, of UBQ. The company has reached 33 employees and is working on converting trashy-trash into: bricks, pavement, and plastic pellets to manufacture – lots. UBQ Materials, are upcycled, bio-based thermoplastic composites which are sustainable, recyclable, and competitively priced.
Trash goes to a Recycling center. All the highly valuable materials that can be recycled, like certain plastics, paper, cardboard, and metals are extracted for sale. What is left over, known as ‘Residual Waste’, including organics, dirty plastics, paper, cardboard, and diapers are then delivered to a UBQ facility. They are not disposed of in a landfill dump or burned in an incinerator.
October 2020 — The design of the sixth TU/ecomotive car, Luca, was developed as a zero-waste car. The R&D team wants to show that waste can be a valuable material with a multitude of applications.
Luca’s body was manufactured by TU/ecomotive out of UBQ™ material. UBQ™ is a patented novel climate-positive material created by Israeli startup UBQ. The central value proposition of using UBQ™ is its sustainability metrics, significantly reducing and even neutralizing the carbon footprint of final applications. By diverting household waste from reaching landfills, UBQ™ prevents the emission of methane, ground water leakage and other toxins. According to Quantis, a leading provider of environmental impact assessments, every ton of UBQ™ material produced offsets 11.7 tons of CO2 equivalent, qualifying it as ‘the most climate positive thermoplastic material on the planet.”
And if Plastic does not interest you…. maybe you can find another Waste industry to join.
All offering the financial benefits of “closing-the-Loop”
There are lots of them!