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Researchers Find a Way to Turn Daily Plastic Waste into Jet Fuel

At least 4.8 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year worldwide, according to conservative estimates by scientists

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Many countries are having trouble managing the growing amount of plastic waste. Pixabay

Plastic trash may one day help people fly as researchers have found a way to turn daily plastic waste products into jet fuel.

“There is a lot of hydrogen in plastics, which is a key component in fuel,” said Hanwu Lei, Associate Professor at the Washington State University in the US.

To produce jet fuel, the researchers melted plastic waste at high temperature with activated carbon.

“This is a very good, and relatively simple, way to recycle these plastics,” Lei said.

For the study, the research team tested low-density polyethylene and mixed a variety of waste plastic products like water bottles, milk bottles, plastic bags and ground them down to around three millimetres, or about the size of a grain of rice.

During the research, the plastic granules were then placed on top of activated carbon in a tube reactor at a high temperature, ranging from 430 degree Celsius to 571 degrees Celsius.

The carbon is a catalyst or a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction.

Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the guts of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales. Wikimedia Commons

“Plastic is hard to break down. You have to add a catalyst to help break the chemical bonds,” Lei said.

After testing several different catalysts at different temperatures, the best result they had produced a mixture of 85 per cent jet fuel and 15 per cent diesel fuel, said the study published in the journal Applied Energy.

“We can recover almost 100 per cent of the energy from the plastic we tested, the fuel is very good quality, and the byproduct gasses produced are high quality and useful as well,” Lei said.

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“You have to separate the resulting product to get jet fuel, if you don’t separate it, then it’s all diesel fuel,” Lei added.

At least 4.8 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year worldwide, according to conservative estimates by scientists.

The new process shows promise in reducing that waste. (IANS)

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Greenpeace Asks for Ambitious Measures from G20 Group to Tackle The Plastic Waste Crisis

The G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution

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Enviornmental Issues, Greenpeace, Plastic Waste
The commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague. Pixabay

Greenpeace on Monday asked the G20 group for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change and to curb marine pollution ahead of the group’s summit in Osaka, western Japan, next week.

The environmental organization said the commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague, Greenpeace Japan experts told Efe news.

In a joint declaration adopted during the meeting, the G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution and reaffirmed the commitments made under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

“Voluntary actions are not enough to deal with such an urgent problem,” warned Hiroaki Odachi of Greenpeace Japan, as he demanded “clear and mandatory actions”.

Enviornmental Issues, Greenpeace, Plastic Waste
Greenpeace on Monday asked the G20 group for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change. Pixabay

Ocean rubbish “is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods … and potentially on human health”, said a statement issued after the two-day meeting in the Japanese resort town of Karuizawa.

The Japan government, which is the current chair of the G-20, described the agreement as “a major achievement” and recently launched several initiatives aimed at “exercising leadership” to tackle the pressing problem of ocean pollution, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

These include the development of biodegradable materials, the promotion of recycling and also requires retailers to charge customers for plastic bags from April 2020, while calling for an increased use of bioplastics made of renewable resources such as plants.

Greenpeace said “these are positive developments but could eventually generate side effects and they don’t deal with the underlying problem”. It added that it would be more appropriate to end the “linear, throwaway destructive business model”.

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Japan is the world’s second-largest generator of plastic waste per capita after the US, according to the UN. In 2018, it was the second-largest exporter of plastic waste, according to another Greenpeace report.

The environmental organization also urged Tokyo to “show real leadership” and take “much more ambitious measures” at the national level while pushing for a meaningful agreement within the framework of the G20 that goes in the direction of what was agreed to in Paris in 2016.

Japan is the only country in the G7 (the seven most industrialized nations) that continues to build coal plants and does not plan to get rid of them as recommended by the Paris Agreement, Greenpeace said. (IANS)