At a garbage dump about 80 miles west of London, Adrian Griffiths is testing an invention he’s confident will save the world’s oceans from choking in plastic waste. And earn him millions.
His machine, about the size of a tennis court, churns all sorts of petroleum-based products — cling wrap, polyester clothing, carpets, electronics — back into oil. It takes less than a second and the resulting fuel, called Plaxx, can be used to make plastic again or power ship engines.
“We want to change the history of plastic in the world,” said Griffiths, the chief executive officer of Recycling Technologies in Swindon, a town in southwest England where 2.4 tons of plastic waste can get transformed in this way daily as part of a pilot project.
For financial backers including the U.K. government and more than 100 private investors, the technology could mark a breakthrough in how plastic is managed globally. The machine uses a feedstock recycling technique developed at Warwick University to process plastic waste without the need for sorting, a major hurdle that has prevented economically viable recycling on a grand scale.
Griffiths’ project is unique in that it doesn’t target a specific type of plastic, but rather seeks to find a solution for the so-called plastic soup inundating the world’s water bodies. By 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in the oceans, according to a study presented at this year’s World Economic Forum by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
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