One of the biggest problems in Cape Town is the amount of plastic which bedevils our beautiful beaches, rivers, forests, city and mountain.
There has been some recent research in the UK, at the University of Chester, whereby a bunch of scientists have discovered that you can use dirty plastic waste to produce hydrogen. This can in turn be used to heat homes and fuel cars, all without omitting greenhouse gas emissions.
Vital Plumbing Recycling Plastic
Even though this technology will only be used commercially by the end of this year, Peele Environmental (the owner of the plant) reckons this project will keep 25 million tons of “contaminated” plastics, which cannot be recycled, from ending up in landfills or the ocean, in the UK alone. South Africa luckily doesn’t use as much plastic as our counterparts, Europe or USA, but we still use between 30kg to 50kg of plastic per person per year.
The process of melting old plastic to generate gas has a two-fold effect:
Whilst hydrogen could play a key role in replacing the traditional gas which is normally used in stoves and boilers within your household, it could also replace petrol and diesel in cars, vans and buses.
The flip side of this is that during the process of creating hydrogen by melting plastic it also releases other potent greenhouse gases such as methane. But Peele Environmental plans to trap these gases and pipe them into a power plant and use it to generate electricity.
According to Professor Joe Howe of the University of Chester, “It will make waste plastic valuable with it being able to power the world’s towns and cities, and most importantly it can help clean up our oceans of waste plastic now.”
This could certainly help with local power house Eskom who is responsible for omitting 42% of the nation’s total greenhouse gases, along with Sasol contributing to 11% by also using coal to make their fuel and chemicals. Placing South Africa 14th in the world for its carbon dioxide source.
It is time we heed what scientists have to say on how to reuse & rebuild our cities in order to leave a better footprints behind on our beaches, rivers, forests, mountains & oceans!
Written by article competition winner, Duncan Rosslee