, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – A Kiambu-based company has begun test runs of Africa’s first plant that converts end of life plastic waste into commercial synthetic fuel oil.
Alternative Energy Systems uses a conversion technology that involves heating the waste under controlled conditions to produce oil, similar to industrial diesel oil and heavy fuel oil used in power plants, industrial furnaces and boilers.
The plant – with a capacity to recycle 16 tonnes of plastic waste per day – is a first of its kind commercial project, with a similar model currently under piloting in South Africa.
More than 1,500 indirect youth jobs will be created for collection of plastic waste which is the main raw material required for the plant. An additional 65 direct jobs will be created in machinery operations and performance of administrative duties.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Rajesh Kent, says the plant has the capacity to convert all types of plastic including thin-gauge plastic waste that are below 30 microns.
“We have begun test runs for the machinery in preparation for official commissioning in early March, 2017. This technology will be transformational in how we handle plastics in this country and Kenya will be used as a benchmark on the continent,” said Kent.
Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation has provided about 46 percent of the financing for the successful implementation of the project by Alternative Energy Systems Limited.
The funds have been used for construction of factory buildings and purchase & installation of machinery and equipment, which were sourced both from abroad and locally.
“We know that counties experience myriad challenges dealing with plastic waste. However, our investment in this sector will see them not only save a lot, but facilitate communities to generate wealth from plastic waste in line with our goal of turning ideas into wealth,” said ICDC Acting Executive Director, Kennedy Wanderi.
This innovation comes on the back of a proposed Nairobi County Plastic Control Bill 2016 that will see shoppers within the city pay for plastic bags.
The Bill states that retailers will not be allowed to provide consumers with recycled non-biodegradable plastic free of charge for carrying their shopping.
Relevant departments charged with manufacture and use of such plastic will be required to prescribe prices depending on size and quality of the bags.
The extra cost on plastic bags is envisaged to cater for waste management by controlling usage.