Plastic waste

From The Lead

THE first systems to use anaerobic digestion technology to turn waste plastics into energy and fertiliser are being developed in South Australia.

POET Systems expects to have its first two machines – each capable of processing 20 tonnes of plastic a week – operating commercially in about 12 months.

More than one million tonnes of contaminated plastic deemed unfit for recycling is sent to landfill in Australia each year. In the United States the figure is almost 10 million tonnes.

Inventor David Thompson said his plastic to energy technology had so far successfully been applied to polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene.

He said the anaerobic digestion process varied upon disposal feedstock and depended also upon temperature and system set up.

“The POET system prepares waste plastic in a way that microbial digestion can take place quickly and I think that’s really the key to making it a commercial opportunity,” Thompson said.

“I have already got inquiries from overseas including a large consortium in South America that is really quite interested to get involved and take the technology over there.”

POET Systems is a 2017 semi-finalist in the Australian Technologies Competition, which assesses, mentors and promotes companies providing a uniquely Australian take on the future and is open to technologies that have global potential in a range of industries.