Pilot Flies 500 Miles On 10 Per Cent Plastic Waste Fuel
Author: Alicia Jooste
On Wings of Waste, an environmental organisation has created an initiative that has the potential to keep end-of-life plastic out of the oceans and recycle it into a new source of fuel.
To show the potential of this idea the organisation recently completed a flight from Sydney to Melbourne using a combination of fuel made from plastic waste pollutant and jet A1 fuel.
It is estimated that there is currently 11 million tonnes of floating plastic circulating in the oceans. Plastic doesn’t decompose it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. In this form it is often ingested by marine life.
Dubbed the ’10 per cent solution’ On Wings of Waste are recycling waste plastic into a new source of fuel. The plastic being used is normally found in the ocean and landfill sites and is now being reprocessed by London-based Plastic Energy.
To produce the fuel, Plastic Energy is using a ‘thermal anaerobic conversion’ process. The process heats plastic in an oxygen-free environment and is then broken down into their component hydrocarbons.
This creates the equivalent of a petroleum distillate, which can be separated into different fuels. This process means the plastic isn’t incinerated which therefore avoids releasing toxic emissions throughout the process.
By The Numbers
The organisation has estimated that if a 747 aircraft burns 36,000 gallons of fuel, and just 10% of that was sourced from plastic waste, it would be equivalent to 18 tonnes of plastic waste diverted from landfill and ultimately the ocean.
The 1,200 flights that arrive and leave from Heathrow everyday could use approximately 21,600 tonnes of plastic waste in a 24 hour period.
David Attenborough is on board acknowledging that On Wings of Waste has initiated a great solution and is encouraging communities and individuals to get behind them.
- Bring your own bags to the shops
- Drink tap water and carry it in your own bottle
- Choose fruit and vegetables that are not wrapped in plastic
- Above all, remember that plastic was made to last a lifetime and beyond –we need to stop thinking it is disposable.
Alicia worked at Planet Ark in 2016.
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