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Key benefits of Pyrolysis

  • The output of plastic, recycled through pyrolysis, can be used as valuable resources (i.e chemical feedstock). This makes recycling of waste more profitable for waste management companies. Currently most of our waste is shipped abroad and or land filled which, through a faulty system of subsidies,  is commercially more viable than sorting waste and recycling it. 

  • Pyrolysis has the potential to drastically reduce landfill. In doing so It will prevent toxic waste from damaging the earth’s environment 

  • Pyrolysis phenomenally increases the amount and types of plastics that can be recycled.

  • Pyrolysis reduces the emissions of greenhouse gasses through reducing landfill and the need to excavate new fossil fuels.

  • The valuable derivatives of crude oil obtained through pyrolysis of non-recyclable waste reduces the need to excavate fossil fuels form the earth. The process of drilling oil out from the ground is a big contributor to global warming in itself, roughly 1.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide. As long as we are burning fuel we might as well use plastic. 

Pyrolysis, a pragamatic approach

To reduce the production and usage of plastics is the long-term vision to which we must subscribe! A radical change in our consumer habits and way of life is without question what we should all pursue in support of the noblest of causes: to not produce waste in the first place. Reduce, reuse, recycle is the mantra. 

We’re excited about the prospect of working jointly alongside the many projects that strive to reduce waste altogether. The Zero Waste movement and the Ellen McArthur foundation are just two of the many initiatives that promote this philosophy. There are companies out there frantically and successfully searching for alternatives to plastic. 

 

There is however, and all will agree, a pressing need for a pragmatic solution to address the existing crisis.

Why? Because even if we stopped producing any plastic at all from today, which is not happening,  it would take many more decades to faze out the plastic already in circulation. It only took a good fifteen years to create the mess we are in today. It’s clear there is a global problem with plastics and time is not on our side. Despite the best efforts of organisations pressing for less plastic to be produced, the amount that will be fabricated is growing exponentially. Global plastic waste totals 4.9 billion tonnes today and will increase to 12 billion tonnes by 2050. This is the reality and we must accept it. Sticking to dogma's will only slow down any initiative that could otherwise effectively reduce waste polluting the environment. 8 million metric tons of plastic per year enter our oceans. That is five grocery bags filled to the brim for every foot of coastline, in the world. This is simply too vast for us to comprehend. In the long term, plastic production must decrease, yet it is currently increasing exponentially and bottle to bottle recycling does not enough to abate this. This is because most plastic decreases in quality each time it is recycled through conventional recycling methods until it loses its value entirely and virgin plastic must be created.  This means that virtually all plastic eventually ends up in landfill or incinerated.

 

A more pragmatic approach is needed. This is where pyrolysis comes into play. It differs radically from waste to energy power plants who burn plastic to create energy. Plastics are particularly attractive for burning, as they’re made with petroleum and generate more energy when incinerated than almost any other material. Countries like Sweden burn almost all of their waste. But burning plastic is also known to release harmful dioxins into the air. Waste-to-energy proponents say state-of-the-art plants filter out such toxic air pollution, but opponents say even the best plants do not filter out all toxins. Whilst the debate rages on the planet pays the price. 

We see pyrolysis recycling playing a vital role in an integrated approach to waste management. Pyrolysis recycling is a pragmatic intervention to the current waste crisis providing hygienic treatment of a vast amount of waste, rather than it being sent to a landfill.

The impact of landfill 

Many materials that end up as waste contain toxic substances. Over time, these toxins leach into the soil and  affect groundwater. This creates an environmental hazards for hundreds of years. PVC, which is currently not recycled is particularly bad. 

 

Leachate is the liquid formed when waste breaks down in the landfill and water filters through that waste. This liquid is highly toxic and pollutes the land, ground water and water ways.

When organic material such plastic breaks down in landfill it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The implications for global warming and climate change are enormous. Methane is also a flammable gas that can become dangerous if allowed to build up in concentration. Apart from the financial costs, garbage buried in landfill breaks down at a very slow rate and remains a problem for future generations. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the United States, behind industry and agriculture. 

Pyrolysis of plastic waste will lead to a marked decrease in amount of waste being dumped into the ground here and overseas where the waste is being exported to. That waste will be given a new life as a valuable end product of pyrolysis recycling.

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