James Muritu, the founder of Progreen Innovations Limited, is pioneering the conversion of plastic waste into fuel to power various vehicles and engines. His innovative process, known as pyrolysis, involves heating plastic waste at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, transforming it back into an oil or hydrocarbon liquid. Additionally, the process produces biochar, a by-product used to fuel furnaces.
“We produce two kinds of alternative fuel: the first is alternative petrol, used for small to medium-sized machines, and the second is alternative diesel fuel, suitable for heavy-duty diesel engines, generators, and vehicles,” explains Muritu.
As plastic waste becomes a pressing global issue, the Progreen Innovations project offers a timely solution. The United Nations Environment Programme reports that global waste production reaches 400 million tonnes annually, with only 12% incinerated and 9% recycled. Plastics in landfills or natural environments can persist for hundreds of years due to their durable chemical structure.
Nickson Otieno, a local climate change expert and sustainability consultant, commends Muritu’s innovation as a step in the right direction. Otieno emphasizes the need for alternative solutions to plastic production and believes that innovative approaches like pyrolysis should be encouraged for dealing with existing plastic waste.
Regarding concerns about toxic gases produced during pyrolysis, Otieno explains that the majority of these gases are redirected back into the process. He distinguishes pyrolysis from incineration, noting that pyrolysis occurs in an enclosed system, resulting in a limited release of toxic gases.
While Muritu’s fuel is not yet available for sale, as it awaits approval from the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Progreen Innovations currently produces 1,000 liters of fuel every two to three days, converting 80% of the plastic waste used into fuel. This means that for every 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of plastics processed, 240 liters (50 gallons) of fuel are produced.