Polypto Lanka – the world’s first plant in which petrol is generated from polythene and plastic waste – was launched yesterday at Yatiyantota. The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) in collaboration with Ananda Withanage, the inventor of the novel concept, and several lecturers from the Chemical and Process Engineering Department of the University of Moratuwa (UoM) had embarked on this venture in 2009.
The launch of Polypto Lanka was held yesterday headed by Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka. The newly produced fuel was pumped into fuel tanks of three-wheelers and motor cycles at the event, for the first time.
Minister Ranawaka who spoke at the event pointed out that this was a golden opportunity where extensive profits could be earned from waste that would otherwise contribute to adverse effects on the eco- system of the country.
“This venture will be a massive boost to achieving the goals of the Pilisaru project as well,” he added.
“The CEA, the UoM and Mr. Withanage entered a tri-party agreement on February 19, 2009. The project was initially planned to conclude within nine months. The project was, however, completed in 12 months,” said national post consumer plastic waste management project CEO/ Project Director Roshan Gunawardena.
The plant which is still in the secondary stage, processes non-biodegradable matter such as mixed plastics, except for PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) and directly produces three most valuable forms of crude oil – petrol, diesel and kerosene. It has the capacity to process waste plastics from a minimum of 500 kilos up to a maximum of 1000 kilos daily.
“We have currently estimated that the output can range around 0.75 to 1 litre of petrol from one kilo of waste plastics. Therefore the daily generation of Polypto petrol can vary from 500 to 1000 litres,” said the main man behind the venture, Mr. Withanage.
The main goal of the project is to provide a stable solution for the waste problem of Sri Lanka while introducing low cost fuel options to the masses. “According to the estimations we have currently made, we believe that a litre of Polypto petrol can be priced at Rs. 75 to Rs.80,” said Mr. Withanage.
It has been nearly four years since Mr. Withanage invented this technology. He said he faced numerous challenges in transforming this concept into action.
“Although I received many invitations from private sector organizations to launch the project, I was determined to initiate the venture in collaboration with a government organization. I feel very pleased to have been able to realize my dreams and make it a success,” he added.
Polypto petrol has already been tested on three-wheelers and motor cycles.
“The fuel was exposed to a vehicle emission test several days ago and was approved. Therefore we are currently looking into the possibilities of transforming the project into a large scale commercial venture,” said Mr. Gunawardena. Speaking further he added that sanction has been received from the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to manufacture fuel out of waste plastics.
UoM lecturer Dr. Shantha Amarasinghe who also spoke said that currently testing is being carried out the possibilities of further purifying Polypto petrol so that a variety of Polypto petrol can be introduced to the market.
Six percent of the entire garbage production in Sri Lanka consists of polythene and plastic waste. The total amount of garbage generated in the country is about 6,500 metric tonnes while polythene and plastic waste accounts for about 390 metric tonnes.