50 shades of plastic

CC Licence: Geof Wilson https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoftheref/497435436/in/photolist-79cfEn-794tXJ-87FZe3-794piG-4MH4Gv-78ZwHz-87FYMb-6yjYof-d6LER-5GkrMj-KXue3-4EtP8F-4YAPMw-GdZLX-794hGE-4GVqyv-7Hx4dB-fCpLpy-JxToa-78ZB8n-5Zztd5-9wBV4g-78Zpm2-9aXpaS-2PoQq-7HAYLQ-m8aMEc-pGsnhV-q2PtYc-8QWen6-76mPVs-7jRtgt-7Ai73n-PMQKQ-8eu4XU-7Hx3NP-78ZpS8-27TWfq-794oZA-8zbZgS-7yMWcb-8TW7qM-3JZwAn-62mn6-8SWst-mwKFbJ-pPesQn-7yMWiJ-ecTyvW-7QwSpd

CC Licence: Geof Wilson
https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoftheref/497435436/in/photolist-79cfEn-794tXJ-87FZe3-794piG-4MH4Gv-78ZwHz-87FYMb-6yjYof-d6LER-5GkrMj-KXue3-4EtP8F-4YAPMw-GdZLX-794hGE-4GVqyv-7Hx4dB-fCpLpy-JxToa-78ZB8n-5Zztd5-9wBV4g-78Zpm2-9aXpaS-2PoQq-7HAYLQ-m8aMEc-pGsnhV-q2PtYc-8QWen6-76mPVs-7jRtgt-7Ai73n-PMQKQ-8eu4XU-7Hx3NP-78ZpS8-27TWfq-794oZA-8zbZgS-7yMWcb-8TW7qM-3JZwAn-62mn6-8SWst-mwKFbJ-pPesQn-7yMWiJ-ecTyvW-7QwSpd

Nowadays there is hardly any life without plastic but there are definitely a few ways to give the material a second “good” purpose. Your simple plastic bottle can actually fuel your car or help building houses.

Only 26% of plastic elements are recycled in Europe. The rest is incinerated and used as heat or to produce electricity. Even though the so thought “waste” can actually be so much more. The following paragraphs will give you a few inspirations in the matter.

From oil to plastic and from plastic back to oil

In order to produce 1 kg of plastic you need 1 l of oil, but you can also reverse the whole process and convert plastic that can’t be recycled, back into a very effective fuel, cleaner and cheaper than traditional fuels, through the process of depolymerization and pyrolysis.

During these processes the plastic elements are basically heated up, melted and turned into gas which is then converted to liquid in order to be used as fuel.

Michael Murray, the founder and CEO of “Cynar”, has seized the chance and turned the plastic waste issue in different countries into his own business advantage.

The Company has specialized its technologies in the subject of transforming end of life plastics which cannot be recycled, into alternative synthetic fuels. From 1 ton of end of life plastic, “Cynar” is able to produce approximately 1000 liters of liquid fuel.

For further information please visit http://www.cynarplc.com/.

From plastic bags to highways

In India, where there is hardly any sustainable waste treatment, Vasudevan, a professor of chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, near Madurai, seems to have found a solution to the problem. 

He has in fact developed a method that allows him to transform and use common plastic garbage as a partial substitute for bitumen in asphalt, which is used for building roads. Thanks to his invention, the now called “Plastic Man” has contributed to the building of more than 5,000 kilometers of plastic roads in at least 11 states.

Vasudevan has created a genuine “win-win” situation for India. The expensive butamin can in a very simple way, partially be replaced by unwanted and nonrecyclable waste and build stronger roads with less infrastructure costs.

From plastic bottles to houses

Another simple and very useful way to give plastic bottles a second life is by using them as a construction material to build houses. When filling simple PET bottles with sand, they become a solid, isolating and fire resistant element which has already been used for different house building projects all over the world. In order to build a house of 110m², you only need about 15 000 bottles.

In comparison, approximately 210 billion of PET bottles are consumed each year in the United States, that would be the equivalent of 14 000 000 houses!

Andreas Froes is the inventor of the art “ECOTEC”, which involves the use of disposable PET bottles, debris and dirt, as raw material for construction. His intention was to develop a technique to build houses without any cement or glue. His technique is called “Ecotec Bi4PVS®” and serves the environment and social development by implementing the house building methodology in several communities in different countries like for example Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, India or Uganda. Several divers projects have successfully been carried out providing people shelter and new prospects.

For further information, please visit http://www.eco-tecnologia.com/portal/.

20 bottles for an underground ticket

In order to handle the city’s waste production, which is about 18000 tons of waste every day, the city of Beijing has put in place a system that allows its inhabitants to recycle plastic bottles and pay their subway ticket.

About 34 “revers” vending machines have been installed throughout the city, and are paying transportation credits or extra mobile phone minutes in exchange for empty PET bottles.

The system is definitely a good idea to raise awareness among Beijing’s inhabitants and tourists, but it is not the solution to the disposable plastic issue in general. The best thing would be to get people to use actual reusable bottles and cups and let go of one-way soda and water bottles.

Nevertheless, the idea is spreading in other cities all over the world, like for example in Sydney where several Environbank revers vending machines are spilling out food truck vouchers, bus tickets or even tickets to the city’s famous New Year’s Eve party in reward of plastic bottles and soda cans.

Sources:

From oil to plastic and from plastic back to oil:

http://www.futuremag.fr/energie/rouler-au-plastique

http://www.cynarplc.com/

http://wmich.edu/mfe/mrc/greenmanufacturing/pdf/PTF%20Summary%20Updated.pdf

From plastic bags to highways:

http://www.futuremag.fr/energie/rouler-au-plastique

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-07-10/indias-plastic-man-chemist-turns-litter-into-paved-roads

India’s ‘Plastic Man’ Turns Litter Into Paved Roads

From plastic bottles to houses:

http://www.futuremag.fr/decryptage/six-usages-insolites-des-bouteilles-en-plastique

http://www.inspirationgreen.com/plastic-bottle-homes.html

http://www.eco-tecnologia.com/portal/

20 bottles for an underground ticket:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/04/beijing-recycling-banks-subway-bottles

http://www.treehugger.com/culture/pay-your-subway-ride-beijing-recycling-plastic-bottle.html

http://www.futuremag.fr/decryptage/six-usages-insolites-des-bouteilles-en-plastique

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