Tests have begun at Africa’s first plant that plans to convert plastic waste into commercial synthetic fuel oil.
Renewable energy company Alternative Energy Systems, based in Kenya, uses a conversion technology that involves heating the waste under controlled conditions to produce oil, similar to industrial diesel oil and heavy fuel oil used in power plants, industrial furnaces and boilers.
The plant has a similar model operating in South Africa, but is known as commercial project that is the first of its kind in Africa.
It has the capacity to recycle 16 tonnes of plastic waste per day.
The collection of plastic waste is said to create more than 1,500 youth jobs in the country and 65 direct jobs will be created in machinery operations and performance of administrative duties.
Kenya as Africa’s benchmark
Company CEO Rajesh Kent told Capital Business that the plant has the capacity to convert all types of plastic including thin-gauge plastic waste that are below 30 microns.
“We have begun test runs for the machinery in preparation for official commissioning in early March, 2017,” he said. “This technology will be transformational in how we handle plastics in this country and Kenya will be used as a benchmark on the continent.”
Approximately 46% of the project’s funding has come from the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC).
The funds have been used for construction of factory buildings and purchase and installation of machinery and equipment, which were sourced abroad and locally.
ICDC acting executive director Kennedy Wanderi said: “We know that counties experience myriad challenges dealing with plastic waste. However, our investment in this sector will see them not only save a lot, but facilitate communities to generate wealth from plastic waste in line with our goal of turning ideas into wealth.”
Nairobi County Plastic Control Bill 2016
This innovation follows a proposed Nairobi County Plastic Control Bill 2016 that will see shoppers within the city pay for plastic bags.
The Bill states that retailers will not be allowed to provide consumers with recycled non-biodegradable plastic free of charge for carrying their shopping.