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Unloved plastics find a use

Last month MRW reported that a plant which turns mixed waste plastics into liquid synthetic fuels was fully operational. Cynar Recycling’s plant in Portlaoise, Ireland is the first of its kind and the company has big plans for the future of plastics recycling, hoping to introduce these plants further afield.

The basic premise of the plant is that it can process up to 10 tonnes of waste plastics per day. Plants can however be built to process up to 20 tonnes of waste per day producing up to 19,000 litres of fuel products at a conversion rate of 95%. It uses a technology involving pyrolysis and distillation to liquefy the waste plastics, ordinarily destined for landfill, into low sulphur hydrocarbon fuels which are less harmful to the environment than standard petrol or diesel.

We are talking about the black bag mixed waste plastic that most operators don’t have an answer for - Michael Murray

In terms of the plastics used, Cynar is targeting the waste material which nobody else wants. Cynar chief executive Michael Murray tells MRW: “We are talking about the black bag mixed waste plastic that most operators don’t have an answer for. We are really targeting the diversion from landfill, we can take that [residual plastic waste] in and, generally, that would attract a gate fee. Then we put it through our system and produce fuel.

“The two types of fuel we produce are a diesel and petrol and that is what we sell it as. We have large wholesalers who are able to blend that with whatever they are interested in doing, so we would sell it at diesel and petrol prices.”

The only types of plastic which the Cynar plant cannot recycle are PVC and PET. Murray explains: “PVC has chlorine which isn’t good for our stainless steel system and the PET doesn’t produce a very a good fuel to be honest with you.”

Not only is the plant recycling waste plastic but it has the added benefit of producing a more environmentally friendly than average fuel product. Murray explains: “We’ve had a prolonged test done by University College Dublin and it demonstrated that the emissions from the fuel were much lower than normal diesel and in fact there are other parts of that report which basically say the actual engine ran better. There is zero sulphur in the fuel as well, so it is a lot better environmentally.”

The ideal format would be for Cynar to enter into joint ventures or partnerships with large waste management companies, locating its plants on existing waste management or recycling sites

Going forward, the plan is to expand the operation to the UK and Europe but not necessarily in its current format. In fact, Murray explains the ideal format would be for Cynar to enter into joint ventures or partnerships with large waste management companies, locating its plants on existing waste management or recycling sites: “We have been in discussions with waste management companies and organisations and we feel that the solution and the most environmentally-friendly way to do this would be to have one of these plants on a waste management site that has the plastic, so you are not having to transport it in any way; then, using the fuel internally for landfill equipment or indeed generators, and various other applications.

“Waste management companies would have a use for the fuel internally, so you are not transporting plastics up and down roads and you are not transporting fuel up and down roads. You are using it all at a very localised level and therefore the carbon footprint is reduced.

“If they specify they want a certain grade of fuel at the outset, that’s what we would actually build for them. If the plastics is the bigger problem than getting the fuel then that’s a slightly different conversation, but we are flexible enough to have the options.”

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