Meeting the Plastics Waste challenge head on.
Plastics have impacted our economies, societies, and the environment for both good and ill. They’re found in products that have improved the lives of people worldwide, from healthcare, sanitation, food and water provision, energy, transportation, IT, and almost all industrial and consumer products. But our ever-increasing consumption of plastics has a downside: a negative impact on the environment from production emissions to pollution from plastic waste.
According to United Nations’ estimates, around 75% of the 9bn plus tonnes of plastics produced in the 60 years to 2020 became plastics waste, with most being landfilled, or dumped, and, increasingly, incinerated. Globally today, we’re generating around 400m tonnes of plastics waste a year, a doubling since 2000. However, the OECD reckons less than 10% is recycled, while 50% is landfilled, 19% is incinerated, and the remaining 22% goes into uncontrolled dumps, is burned in the open, or gets into rivers and oceans.
“Every day, we seem to hear of new cases of plastics waste spoiling our environment,” says David Whitmarsh, CEO of Standard Gas. “Whether it’s plastics ostensibly being collected for recycling, but then being exported and dumped, or images of plastic bottles, bags, and wrappers littering roadsides and riverbanks, and growing islands of plastics waste floating in our oceans. That’s not to mention concerns about microplastics impacting aquatic life, entering the human food chain, and evidence indicating their prevalence in the tap and bottled water we’re drinking.
“Clearly, we need to develop and implement better and more comprehensive waste management systems to collect and treat this waste, reduce the amount of single use plastic where we can, and recycle more plastics waste. And we need to change the culture in our societies worldwide so that more of us think about the impacts of our plastics consumption and what we can do with these materials once their immediate use is ended. Frankly, we also need to start viewing our plastics waste – indeed more of most of the waste we generate – as a resource rather than something that needs disposal.
“For us, the whole purpose of our Standard Gas technology is to offer a waste management option that recovers and reuses the value in the wastes that can’t currently be recycled with the added benefit of decarbonisation. Rather than burning wastes, our advanced thermal conversion technology processes a wide range of waste feedstocks – from purely biogenic to mixed wastes, plastics, sewage sludge, and some hazardous wastes – at high temperatures, from 500°C to around 1,200°C, and converts them into a clean, sustainable gas for energy generation and a carbon-capturing char, which makes the process carbon-negative. We’re also convinced from the latest research that our process will safely process and destroy PFAS, the ‘forever chemicals’ that are found in sewage sludge and are a cause for concern regarding human and animal health.
“Our gas is very clean and has been certified “End of Waste” by the UK’s Environment Agency. It can be used to generate electricity, for grid injection, and, with further processing, for renewable transport fuel and chemical feedstock. We’ve also explored the potential to generate Green Hydrogen, which is entirely feasible, too. If the waste we process contains plastics, then that will increase the calorific value of the gas. In terms of energy, one of our SG100 plants can generate up to 40,000 MW hours of power in a year – enough for about 10,000 homes.
“The char we produce as a co-product captures carbon. In fact, it’s generally between 50% and 95% pure carbon. That means most of the char or biochar we’ll generate, up to 16,000 tonnes a year depending on feedstock, can be sequestered in construction products such as cement, concrete, and even asphalt, or used in agriculture or horticulture as a soil conditioner and enhancer. When you think that 16,000 tonnes of carbon is equivalent to the emissions of 5,000 cars, that’s a significant amount of carbon removal towards the goal of Net Zero.
“The great thing about our technology is that it turns waste into products that can be returned to the Circular Economy, or the “Regenerative Economy” as I’m seeing it called. Our ambition is huge, because we know our technology can help address the problems of plastics wastes by converting them into sustainable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.”
TRANSITION TO NET ZERO WITH OUR CARBON-REMOVING TECHNOLOGY
Carbon Negative Energy: Each year, a single SG100 plant can generate up to 40,000 MW hours of carbon-negative power, enough for around 10,000 homes, offices or commercial properties, as well as for the transportation sector and wider industry.
Carbon Reduction: It will remove up to 16,000 tonnes of CO2e – equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 5,000 cars. With electrolysis, a plant processing biogenic waste will generate over 650 tonnes of green hydrogen. And the SG100 closes the waste management loop, offering a better low carbon alternative to landfill and incineration.
Carbon Capture: TheSG100 technology also generates ‘biochar’ and ‘carbon char’, a black, granular, dust-like co- product that can be sequestered in valuable agricultural, environmental, and industrial applications.