A new waste-to-energy plant at the City’s Kraaifontein Integrated Waste Management Facility (KIWMF) will see roughly 500 kg of plastic converted to 500 litres of oil per day.
The City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), today opened its plastics-to-oil conversion plant, kicking off a six-month pilot project that will provide invaluable insights into the potential for creating fuel from plastic waste diverted from landfill sites.
Today’s ribbon-cutting (and carbon-cutting) ceremony marked the culmination of more than a year’s worth of preparation and cooperation between the City, JICA and its Japanese partner corporations. This was made possible by the generous donation of US$1million from the Japanese Government and the pyrolysis plant technology developed and supplied by the CFP Corporation and Kanemiya Co., Ltd.
Japan is a world leader in waste minimisation and applying their technology in a South African context aligns with the City’s commitment to a future that is more energy secure, resource-efficient, and resilient to the impact of climate change.
By using the existing structures in the form of its Think Twice recycling collection initiative, the City, together with technical assistance from the Japanese engineers, built on available resources to support the functioning of the plant. After harvesting the three types of plastic (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) from the stream processed at the KIWMF, these materials (which come in the form of all manner of plastic packaging) are brought to the processing plant where they are then washed, shredded, heated and converted to oil.
The yield of 500 kg of plastic materials per day works out to approximately 500 litres of fuel. These yields will be assessed by specialised technicians on site to determine the quality and quantity of fuel being produced in different combinations and ratios of the three types of plastic. Ultimately, the aim is to test the best combinations to yield the highest quality.
Approximately 70% of fuel produced by the pilot plant will be channelled back into the running of the plant, powering the 150 kilowatt generator on site. The rest could be used to power any other machinery that runs on diesel if the oil is of a good quality.
‘The rising volumes of waste material produced in countries across the world represent a problem that cannot be ignored. They pose a threat to the health of the environment, and to the health of human beings. Sadly, we are united as a global community in this regard.
“The agreement signed between JICA, the CFP Corporation and the City of Cape Town in 2014 is an exciting step towards progress. Through partnership, we are able to explore possibilities and share ideas. We are not just united by the challenges we face, but are partners in finding the solutions,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg.
While the City of Cape Town is a leader in the country in terms of waste minimisation, there is still a long road ahead. The amount of waste plastic is increasing as one of the major waste materials in South Africa, at a rate of 6%. Meanwhile, the City’s recycling rate is still low, at 16%, and the bulk of the waste is sent to landfill sites.
“In terms of the National Waste Management Strategy of 2011, South Africa aims to achieve a recycling rate of 25% of the waste currently sent to landfill by the end of 2015. Considering this, we are naturally very keen to learn about new technologies that would help us to achieve that goal in a sustainable manner.”
“South Africa is the only G20 member in Africa and considered a newly industrialised country. The City of Cape Town recognises that cities are in a key position to steer a lower carbon, more resilient and sustainable future, and that this type of investment and research is key to joining the ranks of Japan in terms of waste, environment, and employment solutions,” added Councillor Sonnenberg.
South Africa’s logistics costs reached R393-billion in 2013, equating to 11.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which does not compare well with the figures of North America, at 8.8%, and Europe, at 9.2%, Stellenbosch University’s (SU’s) newly launched Logistics Barometer South Africa 2015 reports.
However, South Africa fared better than South America, whose logistics costs were 12.3% of GDP, and Asia Pacific, at 12.8%.
Changes in input costs were expected to increase this percentage for 2014 and 2015, as South Africa’s economy was transport intensive.
The country was one of only three that routinely measured and reported logistics costs as a percentage of GDP in a quantitative manner – the others being the US and Brazil.
The barometer, launched on Monday, was aimed at strengthening the research published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Imperial Logistics in the State of Logistics surveys for South Africa over the past ten years.
“This is an exciting development for SU as we are launching a product that is of great importance to the industry.
“This research serves the country as a whole as it is used for strategic decision-making on a provincial as well as national level. It provides regulators, policy makers, infrastructure owners, economic planners and others who operate in the logistics field with intelligence to deal with the issues identified. This research puts SU on the cutting edge in terms of calculating logistics costs using international benchmarks,” SU researcher Zane Simpson said.
The Logistics Barometer identified transport as the most significant portion of logistics costs in the country. South Africa’s GDP constituted only 0.44% of the global GDP, yet 0.6% of the world’s road networks and 2% of the world’s rail network were in this country.
South Africa accounted for more than 1% of the world’s tonne-kilometres, 1.7% of the world’s container trade and 5.1% of the world’s dry bulk trade. More than 80% of transport costs were owing to road transport, with rail tariffs contributing between 11% and 13%, and pipeline tariffs 2% or less in recent years.
The biggest contributor to road transport costs was fuel. Even with reduced tonne-kilometres in 2013, the total fuel bill was still higher than in 2012, owing to a higher diesel price.
The totals for some of the variable costs – Including driver wages, depreciation and insurance – have seen a slight decrease. However, this was not owing to a drop in input costs, but rather a slight change in industry behaviour, Logistics Barometer contributing researchers and editors Nadia Viljoen and David King warned.
“The Logistics Barometer will have an international impact through the reputation of the underlying research and the long-standing collaboration between SU and other researchers globally. “Our work is noticed by researchers around the world and used as an example of only a few countries where this measurement is repeated annually and used regularly. We now have 11 years of consecutive logistics costs measurements, and are proud to be leaders in this field,” Simpson commented.
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Boeing and SAA, along with partners SkyNRG and Sunchem SA, also officially launched Project Solaris, their collaborative effort to develop an aviation biofuel supply chain with a nicotine-free tobacco plant called Solaris. In Limpopo province, company representatives and industry stakeholders visited commercial and community farms where 123 acres (50 hectares) of Solaris have been planted.
Oil from the plant’s seeds may be converted into bio-jet fuel as early as next year, with a test flight by SAA as soon as practicable.
“SAA continues to work towards becoming the most environmentally sustainable airline in the world and is committed to a better way of conducting business,” said Ian Cruickshank, Environmental Affairs Specialist, SAA Group. “The impact that the biofuel program will have on South Africans is astounding: thousands of jobs mostly in rural areas, new skills and technology, energy security and stability and macro-economic benefits to South Africa, and of course, a massive reduction in the amount of CO2 that is emitted into our atmosphere.”
“It is very exciting to see early progress in South Africa towards developing sustainable aviation biofuel from energy-producing tobacco plants,” said J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International. “Boeing strongly believes that our aviation biofuel collaboration with South African Airways will benefit the environment and public health while providing new economic opportunities for South Africa’s small farmers. This project also positions our valued airline customer to gain a long-term, viable domestic fuel supply and improve South Africa’s national balance of payments.”
The farm visits followed the announcement in August that Boeing, SAA and SkyNRG were collaborating to make aviation biofuel from the Solaris plant, which was developed and patented by Sunchem Holding. If the test farming in Limpopo is successful, the project will be expanded in South Africa and potentially to other countries. In coming years, emerging technologies are expected to increase aviation biofuel production from the plant’s leaves and stems.
Sustainable aviation biofuel made from Solaris plants can reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by 50 to 75 percent, ensuring it meets the sustainability threshold set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). Airlines have conducted more than 1,600 passenger flights using aviation biofuel since the fuel was approved for commercial use in 2011.
Boeing is the industry leader in global efforts to develop and commercialize sustainable aviation biofuel. In addition to its collaboration in Southern Africa, Boeing has active biofuel development projects in the United States, Middle East, Europe, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Brazil and Australia.