From plastic to diesel…overcoming waste management

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IN a move aimed at ridding the environment of plastics, Farai Pyro, a company working on producing green electrical energy, has started producing diesel from plastic waste.
Zimbabwe, like other countries in the SADC region, is grappling with waste management and pollution.
Increased rural-to-urban migration, high poverty levels, a rising quality of life and high rates of resource consumption patterns have had an unintended and negative impact on the urban environment.
The continued rampant illegal dumping of domestic and industrial waste in cities have resulted in serious health and environmental impacts caused by littering, generation of foul smell and proliferation of pests as well as insects that transmit diseases.
Unfortunately, most of these cities have failed to adopt proper disposal technologies and methodologies with inadequate manpower and equipment to address the challenges.
With high volumes of waste and high costs involved in waste management, public-private partnerships seem to be the only way to go for most of these towns.
Recycling of metals, plastics and any other recycled materials has been proven as the best method to significantly reduce the tonnes of waste finding its way into the environment.
Zimbabwe’s urban currently generate 1,65 million tonnes of waste annually.
Speaking at the launch of the Zero Tolerance to Litter Programme, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said there is an anomaly between waste management and generation.
“There is a mismatch between waste generation and management resulting in waste dumping at street corners, littering and waste burying and burning,” the Minister said.
“Herein lies an opportunity to create green jobs. Some have already taken the opportunity to and are producing artefacts, making pavers from plastics, three-legged pots from scrap metal and irrigation pipes from plastic waste, among others.
“This has become possible through skills development, market linkages and value addition techniques provided by the Environmental Management Agency. I urge women to form groups and undertake recycling activities to make a living out of it. As a Ministry, we are ready to support such initiatives in our quest to address waste management challenges.”
Speaking to The Patriot, Allen Matsika, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Farai Pyro, said waste could produce vital commodities such as fuel.
The company, which has been operational for over a year now, has begun producing diesel from plastic.
“We are producing diesel from plastic using the process called pyrolysis. We have not done much though because we need investment in order to maximise production,” Matsika said.
“A secure and constant supply of plastic is needed in order to continue producing. The residue can be used to produce floor polish and candles, among other things.
“Larfage has tested the diesel we produce and has endorsed it. Once we produce it in large quantities, we will be able to sell it.”
During a demonstration, Matsika showed how the equipment, designed in the country and manufactured in Mbare, produces fuel in a 30-minute process from a maximum of 100kg of plastic.
Pyrolysis is the degradation of matter at hot temperatures.
Wikipedia describes pyrolysis as the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere.
It involves the change of chemical composition and is irreversible.
The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro (fire) and lysis (separating).
Founded in 2016 and incorporated in 2017, the company has two co-founders Farai Musenda and Allen Matsika.
Farai is a National University of Science and Technology graduate and award winner of the catalytic pyrolysis field.
“We are collecting post-consumer plastic waste which we are converting into diesel. We want to clean up the country’s cities and create employment, especially for the marginalised in society,” said Matsika.
A baseline study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Studies years ago revealed that the bulk of national waste is biodegradable waste constituting 32 percent of total waste generated, 25 percent paper, 18 percent plastic, seven percent metal, six percent textile and four percent medical waste, among others.

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