Thursday, April 26, 2012

Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies

The five Key Findings from the study Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies, carried out by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International for the American Chemistry Council are presented here for the benefit of our readers.

We hope this latest research on pyrolysis and gasification technologies will keep our readers up to date with the latest technologies under development and ready for deployment. This study can be considered a follow up to the Earth Engineering Center's (EEC) study for the American Chemistry Council, Energy and Economic Value of Non-recycled Plastics (NRP) and Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) that are Currently Landfilled in the Fifty States.

The study, Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies yields the following key findings:   

1. A range of conversion technologies are already technologically feasible, and more may be possible. The study identified 41 conversion technologies facilities in development, in demonstration phase, or in full‐scale commercialization. The primary feature differentiating technologies is the feedstock.  Pyrolysis technologies are generally suited to handling feedstock from waste plastics; gasification technologies are generally suited to accepting MSW; anaerobic digestion and concentrated acid hydrolysis are more suited for organic wastes.

2. Conversion technologies are expected to begin breaking through to commercial viability with a short horizon – in 5 to 10 years. Plastics‐to‐oil pyrolysis technologies are generally closer to full scale commercialization than MSW‐based technologies (typically gasification), in part because of the more consistent feedstock composition and supply for the former.

3. Life‐cycle environmental review shows that waste conversion technologies have significant environmental benefits in energy saved and greenhouse gases averted compared to landfill disposal. Specifically, the study estimated that gasification (excluding energy production and materials recycling offsets) of MSW saves 6.5–13 million Btu (MMBtu) per ton as compared to landfill disposal. Pyrolysis of waste plastics saves 1.8–3.6 MMBtu per ton as compared to landfill disposal. Likewise, study results show that gasification of MSW saves 0.3–0.6 tons of carbon equivalent (TCE) emissions per ton of MSW treated as compared to landfill disposal.  Pyrolysis of waste plastics saves 0.15–0.25 TCE emissions per ton as compared to landfill disposal.

4. The primary drivers for waste conversion technologies include economic and non‐ economic aspects. Key drivers include the alternate costs for disposition of the waste (generally landfill costs), meeting waste diversion goals and targets, and developing alternative energy sources. 

5. The study finds that waste conversion technologies are already able to produce fuel outputs at lower costs than landfill disposition in some regions. Survey data indicates that the cost to process the waste is approximately $50 per ton (for pyrolysis and gasification technologies), and is generally related to the cost of electricity or fuel required to run the process.  U.S. averages for landfill disposal and recycling, for comparison, range from $30‐75/ton depending on region.


  1. Pyrolysis technologies area unit usually suited to handling feedstock from waste plastics.

    Waste Plastic Pyrolysis

  2. But they have created their own unique system and have an approved patent with the intellectual property office of the Philippines. This company is already running for about three months producing 1600 liters of fuel daily.

    Plastic Pyrolysis

  3. Diverse advanced institutes and plants are currently perfecting the production of synthetic fuel.

    Plastics Pyrolysis

  4. Slow pyrolysis biochar has different properties than flash/fast. It remains to be seen which product has greater benefits under specific agriculture conditions.

    Pyrolysis Technology