By Chris Mgidu NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya has begun test runs of Africa’s
first plant that converts plastic waste into commercial
synthetic fuel oil.
The plant, based in
Kiambu County in central Kenya, uses a conversion technology
that involves heating the waste under controlled conditions to
produce oil, similar to industrial diesel oil (IDO) and heavy
fuel oil (HFO) used in power plants, industrial furnaces and
Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) has provided about 46
percent of the financing for the implementation of the project
by Alternative Energy Systems Limited.
“We have begun test
runs for the machinery in preparation for official commissioning
in early 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,” Alternative Energy Systems CEO
Rajesh Kent said.
The project shows
the country’s resolve to stem the plastic pollution menace. In
Kenya, over 24 million plastic bags are used monthly according
to the Green Belt Movement, half of which end up in the solid
Plastic bags now
constitute the biggest challenge to solid waste management in
Executive Director, Kennedy Wanderi said the technology has
capacity to convert all types of plastic including thin-gauge
plastic waste that are below 30 microns, which other industries
“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 Wanderi.
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.
Additional 65 direct jobs will be created in machinery
operations and performance of administrative duties.
“We are targeting
firms keen on pushing the agenda for clean environments and
which prefers low sulphur fuels,” said Kent.
India, Germany and
United States of America have large scale projects of similar
nature. 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.
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.
The 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.