Europe’s waste plastics turned into green fuel

European drivers will soon be able to tank up on diesel made from plastic waste, when the first plastics-to-fuel factory opens in Germany at the beginning of next year. Fifteen more will follow across the EU.

Dutch company Envosmart snapped up exclusive rights to the green diesel technology when it signed a contract with Australian group Ozmotech last week. It has since seen “tremendous interest” from European investors, Arjen Bouterse of Envosmart told edie.

The technology enables unsorted plastic waste to be made into high quality green (low-sulphur) diesel, says Envosmart. Plastics, including those hard or impossible to recycle, are liquefied, thermally treated at around 400 degrees Celsius, and condensed into a low-sulphur fuel. One kilogram of plastic gives 9,3 litres of fuel that can be used in any standard diesel engine.

“The plastic we use would normally be going to landfill or incineration. We do not use any plastic intended for recycling. So we are giving the material a new lifecycle,” said Envosmart chairman John Bouterse.

A 200m euro investment scheme will enable 15 factories with 31 production lines to appear across Europe.

The German plant near Berlin, following a 40m euro investment, will be producing 38 million litres of diesel each year from 42,0000 tonnes of plastic waste. It will be followed by factories in Holland, Poland and Sweden in the same year, then a host of other EU countries.

The company had planned the expansion of its technology into Europe to last five years. “But it’s now likely to happen a lot faster, within three years,” said Arjen Bouterse.

Plastics-to-diesel technology is not new – the Japanese have been using it to produce green diesel for a decade. But it is only now that technological developments have given it the efficiency needed to compete in Europe, where landfill is cheaper than in Japan.

Arjen Bouterse explained: “Landfill costs in Japan are sky high, energy is also expensive. The Japanese were saving a bundle of money on landfill costs.” Now that the system has been developed and made more efficient, it is ready to hit Europe where avoiding landfill is less of a financial driver, he said.

Green marketing is a strong driver of the European interest. “One example is the German factory,” Arjen Bouterse said. “One of the largest European waste collectors will be using green diesel made from waste plastics to run the trucks it uses to collect waste. People like that idea.”

By Goska Romanowicz

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