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In February and March, as part of Social Media Week, for which Hong Kong was the only Asian city to participate this year, a unique event was created, called the Hong Kong Plastic Challenge. Even though it started the week after Chinese New Year, and lasted for only five days, eight local schools and universities participated by having students collect any type of plastic for conversion to fuel. In total over 250kg of plastic in all shapes, sizes, colors, types and temperature melting points, was collected. This is an important factor to consider – everything was used, with no sorting needed. I hope light bulbs are now going off in your head – yes, I’m suggesting sustainable change.

The objective of this project was to show that plastic has a value, in any shape or form.  After all, it is solidified petroleum (remember that when you drink or eat from it).  With new technologies in the market, the solution to recycle the millions of plastic waste currently disposed, can now be an option – instead of feeding our overflowing landfill.

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The plastic waste that the school collected was sent to a shredding machine, and once shredded to process, the material was re-liquified through condensation. This creates three main outputs. The first is a gas, which is used to power the plant itself.  The next is sludge, like tar, it can be used for the asphalt industry, and the last is a re-generated diesel which is 50% cleaner than any marine diesel used in Hong Kong today in terms of sulfer content. Imagine that. The ratio of plastic to liquid fuel is roughly 3 to 1, so 100kg of plastic can make approximately 30 litres of re-generated diesel. This process creates no emissions, as it is closed-looped in nature, and is not burning or incinerating anything. This is one of the biggest opportunities the world has seen to rid ourselves of the huge quantities of plastic that have been building up on our planet, almost none of which is biodegradable. So, if a plastic item was made 50 years ago, it likely still exists, unless burned in some fashion (if burned, toxins are emitted in the air).

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As a reward for their great efforts, some of the students from Beacon Hill School and Discovery Bay International School came along on the Hong Kong Dolphin Watch boat to see how the fuel can be used in a boat.

Please watch this short video to see how it all was put together.

The Hong Kong Plastic Challenge

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