Conversion of plastic into fuel from March

Alternative Energy Systems has started test runs for its plant that converts plastic waste into synthetic fuel oil. The Kiambu-based company 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.

Alternative Energy Systems CEO Rajesh Kent yesterday said the project will be ready for commissioning in March.

“This technology will be transformational in how we handle plastics in this country and Kenya will be used as a benchmark on the continent,” Kent said.

More than 24 million plastic bags are used monthly in Kenya, according to the Green Belt Movement, half of which end up in the solid waste mainstream, constituting the biggest challenge to solid waste management in the country.

The technology has capacity to convert all types of plastic including thin-gauge plastic waste that are below 30 microns, which other industries cannot recycle, the firm said.

State-owned Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation yesterday said it has provided about 46 per cent of the financing for the implementation of the project, which includes installation of machinery.

ICDC acting executive director Kennedy Wanderi said: “We know that counties experience myriad challenges dealing with plastic waste. Our investment will see them not only save a lot, but facilitate communities to generate wealth from plastic waste.”

The 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 the size and quality of the bags. The extra cost on plastic bags is envisaged to cater for waste management by controlling usage.

The Kiambu plant is a first of its kind commercial project, with a similar model currently under piloting in South Africa. It has a capacity of recycling 16 tonnes of plastic waste per day.