Turning waste into fuel

Photo by Thipawan Charoentawornsuk
Photo by Thipawan Charoentawornsuk

Plastic waste is a large problem, especially in Thailand.

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According to the 2016 Community Solid Waste Situation Report in Thailand, the country has the 6th highest amount of plastic waste in the oceans, and there is little to no knowledge about how to dispose of it properly. People turn to burning plastic, which leads to environmental problems such as air pollution, with the release of dangerous chemicals into the air.

However, there are ways to dispose of plastic, and one method lies within the province of Suphanburi. Peerada “Add” Patitus, the chairperson of the Suphanburi Waste Revolution Coalition Enterprise, has not only found a way to dispose of plastic waste in an environmentally conscious way, but has also found a way to turn the plastic waste into something useful: gasoline.

Peerada studied Mathematics at Chulalongkorn University. Though she had a career in computers, technology and maths, she was always interested in sustainability and the environment. As time went on, her focus began to shift to her latter interest, and one day, she thought about ways to solve the plastic waste problem in Thailand. An idea came to her that plastic is essentially made up of oils, so what if she reverted the plastic to its previous form? That’s how the Suphanburi Waste Revolution Coalition Enterprise was born.

Peerada says that most types of plastics can be recycled and turned back into gasoline, using a process where the plastic is first compressed so that a larger quantity of it can fall into a pipe leading to a burning chamber. You may think that this is just going to cause the same problem of pollution. However, that is not going to happen.

The smoke released as a result of the plastic burning will pass through a separate tube that will converge with a tube carrying cold water. This will condense the smoke into a dark liquid, which has properties that can be beneficial to agriculture. Moreover, the solid byproduct that comes as a result of burning the plastic can be used to make asphalt to build or repair roads.

The gasoline that comes from burning the plastic is 30% benzene and 70% diesel. The gasoline is sold at a cheap price to farmers and others within the area who need it for agricultural or general purposes. So, not only is plastic being disposed of in a clean way, the byproducts are not wasted, and the products are used to better the community.

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  • agricultural (adj): of the science or practice of farming - ที่เกี่ยวกับเกษตรกรรม
  • asphalt: a thick black sticky substance used especially for making the surface of roads - แอสฟัลต์, สารชนิดหนึ่งมีสีน้ำตาลหรือดำเหมือนดินน้ำมัน
  • chamber: a space in something (in a body, in a plant, a machine, etc, which is separated from the rest - ช่อง
  • compress (verb): to press or squeeze something together or into a smaller space; to be pressed or squeezed in this way - บีบอัด, กดเข้าด้วยกัน
  • dispose of: to get rid of - ทำลาย
  • latter: used for referring to the second of two people, things, or groups that have just been mentioned - อันหลัง,ครึ่งหลัง,ส่วนที่สอง
  • revert (verb): when something returns and goes back to what they were before - กลับสู่สภาพเดิม
  • sustainability (noun): can continue doing activity for a long time - ย่างยั่งยืน
  • tube: a long hollow cylinder made from plastic, metal, rubber or glass - ท่อ, หลอด
  • waste (noun): the useless part that is thrown away after something is used - ขยะ, ของเสีย, ที่ไม่มีประโยชน์, การสูญเสียไปโดยเปล่าประโยชน์, การหมดเปลือง
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