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Ontario company looking to turn waste plastic and tires into diesel, natural gas


August 29, 2018  


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An Ontario-based company is looking to reduce the environmental footprint of plastics and waste tire and oil with a new kind of recycling technology.

Brett Lawson, of BBL Energy Inc., is working to establish the first recycling facility in Canada that takes waste plastic and used tires and converts them into light diesel oil and natural gas.

“A portion of plastics and tires are recycled but most are either put into landfill or incinerated. Our process can convert these ‘end of life’ materials that are not currently being recycled into a reusable energy source,” Lawson says, noting their equipment can recycle everything from plastic food containers to plastic bags, straws, plastic hospital waste, industrial drums etc., all of which can be processed in one machine at the same time.

He and his brother, Brad Lawson, are currently looking at sites in the eastern part of Ontario.

Lawson’s family had already built a number of businesses in Canada and the U.S. before moving into the recycling sector. His father, Grant, was the founder of Trillium Healthcare Products, a company that contract manufactured bar soap and pharmaceutical products for multinational companies in North America.

A few years back, the family was contacted by a friend in England who told them about a new kind of recycling process being developed by a Dublin-based company called Polyfuel Group. It uses a process called pyrolysis to break down plastic waste and tires into fuel oil, natural gas and carbon char. The company’s founder, Edward Mooney, had been researching this process for nearly 20 years.

“In simple terms, we heat the waste in an oxygen-free environment using hot air generated from non-condensable gases,” Mooney explains in an email sent from his office in Ireland. “We turn the solid waste into a liquid and then into a gas. The gasses are then quenched and condensed into a liquid fuel.”

Pyrolysis-based recycling has been the subject of a number of scientific studies and academic research papers in recent years. As the need to clean up plastic waste becomes more urgent, there’s been a more concerted effort to develop new recycling solutions.

The Polyfuel Group is one of the first companies to get off the ground and commercialize the technology. The first machine, outside of India and Africa where there are 30 machines in operation, is currently being installed in Wales. Lawson explains that these recycling machines are processing 18 tons of waste plastic per day, yielding an estimated 14,000 to 18,000 litres of light diesel in a single 24-hour period.

While he has confidence in this proven technology, Lawson acknowledges getting others to understand this next-generation recycling method is a challenge, however the company is making good progress. BBL Energy Inc. has recently announced a new contract that will see the company process more than 6,000 tons of waste tires annually in Canada, he added.

(National Post / Content Works / BBL Energy Inc.)