‘No Plastic Goes To Waste’ – How a small group of young Indonesians are leading the way in the war against waste.
Single use plastics – straws, plastic bags and bottles, and other ‘disposable’ items have created a global environmental catastrophe. Polluted and poisoned oceans, floating islands of plastic, and marine life choked to death on plastic bags and waste, are frequently in the news. While these distressing images seem hopeless, an inspirational group in Indonesia are busy coming up with potentially planet-saving solutions.
In 2014, a team of seven young Indonesian nationals and two European team members, each with diverse backgrounds and expertise, came together to tackle the endless tide of plastic waste. They recognised the ineffective recycling programs in Indonesia and a lack of adequate waste disposal altogether in the remote villages of developing nations. The group started researching solutions to the plastic problem, focussing on ways that plastic waste can be reused and converted into something useful – fuel. Their research led them to pyrolytic machines, capable of converting plastic waste into fuel through a process of dry distillation. They poured countless hours and their own money into developing a viable prototype, using the cleanest technology possible, and successfully designed a low-tech, low-emission machine capable of converting 1kg of plastic into 1 litre of fuel.
The team came up with two models – a 5-10kg capacity machine that takes three hours to distil fuel, or a 20kg machine that takes six hours to complete the process. The machines need gas to start the first time they are switched on, but after that, are completely self-sustaining, producing 70% diesel fuel, 20% premium and 10% kerosene fuel. The technology takes plastic rubbish and returns it to its original component; combustible fuels like gasoline for vehicles and generators, and diesel fuels for fishing and agricultural equipment.
In 2017, they launched ‘Get Plastic’ or ‘GEraken Tarik Plastik’, an Indonesian not-for-profit, whose motto is ‘No plastic goes to waste’. Their mission is to educate people to reuse the most harmful single use plastics, like plastic bags, disposable coffee cups, straws, plastic bottles and other food packaging and convert them to fuel. By using the pyrolytic machines, plastics are saved from landfill, oceans and waterways. Just as importantly, villagers can make an income by selling fuel, or use it to run their vehicles and machinery. Crucially, the Get Plastic fuel conversion technology is cheap to build, replicate and operate anywhere in the world. It’s a game changer!
In 2018, the Get Plastic team completed a record-breaking 1200km road trip across Indonesia, on a Vespa motorbike fuelled entirely by plastic waste collected along the journey. The trip was an opportunity to raise awareness about the pioneering technology, and lead village workshops on plastic to fuel conversion and proper waste management systems. Their goal is to change the perception of plastics as merely waste, educating people about the valuable potential of recycling.
If plastic waste can be repackaged as a form of income in places where government-led recycling and environmental conservation measures are lacking, the people in these regions will be incentivised and empowered to invest in recycling. It is through this approach – plastic as income – that the team thinks they can affect the biggest change.
Get Plastic are excited about the future of waste management. They are urging people to go and ‘Get Plastic’ and not let it ‘go to waste’. The dedicated team do it for love, not money, as they don’t make a cent out of machine sales. It is all borne out of a passion for making positive change and healing the planet. They accept donations from the public or corporate investment, with all investment going back into programs to further the cause, educate and raise awareness. To learn more or donate to this very worthy initiative, contact Get Plastic on www.getplastic.org for more information on the machine.
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Written by Suzanne Srdarov and Clare Srdarov