South Asia is a beautiful region with extraordinary natural features. Unfortunately, much of it ranks as having some of the worst pollution on earth. This burden effects the health of the people and the environment and tarnishes the beauty of God’s creation.
Having arrived in January this year with all sorts of ideas and possibilities for using my outdoor recreation and eco-tourism skills, we soon found ourselves locked down due to COVID-19.
With time to spare and disturbed by the stench of burning rubbish and masses of plastic waste littering the capital city, I started researching ideas to utilise this waste in a way that may work in South Asia. As I read the academic literature, I started taking notes and these developed into a report. Encouraged by the response, I formed a small, mostly online design team.
The aim of this project is to develop a small-scale pyrolysis machine that will divert plastic waste from open dumping and burning to produce a kerosene-type fuel for use in cooking stoves, while also generating a small income for the operator. We believe the process will be carbon-positive, reducing the need for firewood, dung and the expense of transporting gas while producing minimal emissions. The machine will fit in the back of a utility, enabling it to be transported to remote areas in the mountains.
In addition to the small-scale plant, I have been communicating with another social enterprise who recycle PET bottles into pellets to be used in new products. The enterprise currently needs to dump its non-PET plastics and has a high energy requirement for heating its washing water. In the future, we hope establishing a co-located plant may address these issues.
Despite slow progress due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have now acquired most of the critical materials required from local suppliers to make a proof-of-concept model. We still need a suitable location to build and test the machine before we move on to a full-scale prototype.
Tim* is an On Track worker in South Asia.
*Names have been changed.