Thursday, September 8, 2016

Double Solution - Producing petroleum from waste plastic

Plastics are basically hydrocarbons that are extracted from petroleum. Plastics are used in every sphere of life whether it be bags, electronic devices, clothing, sports material, construction, vehicles etc.. While plastics are low cost and durable once the plastic products are of no use they are disposed off in the garbage bins. It is here that the problem starts.

It takes hundreds of years for plastics to completely decompose as a result plastic waste is on a rise and its choking up the oceans and rivers across the world for years. However scientists from across the world and India have come up with solutions that would not only convert this waste plastic into gold but also eliminate the land and water pollution that is caused because of plastics.

As mentioned earlier plastics are hydrocarbons produced from crude oil. Hence if we can find a technology that can reconvert waste plastic back to crude oil, we can solve many of our problems. Over the last couple of years scientists in India, US and a few other countries have successfully extracted petroleum from waste plastic. In fact Indian Railways had announced its plan to set up a plant to produce diesel from waste plastic back in April 2015. 

According to government figures 60 Indian cities produce 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year. As per the report one ton of waste plastic can produce 850 litres of diesel/petrol. So we can get millions of litres of petrol and diesel from waste plastic that would reduce our oil import bills and eliminate the pollution caused by plastic waste. 

Globally speaking each year 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the oceans. So this technology will reduce our need to extract oil from wells and at the same time we can prevent any plastic going into the oceans. In fact if we are able to retrieve at least some of the plastic that is dumped in the oceans we can get billions of litres of petrol and diesel. 

This is an example of the advantage that we have when we invest in science and technology research. We not only find solutions of complex problems but also enrich our lives. 

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