Is Pyrolysis good for business and the planet? Building the business case for plastic to fuel in Maputo and/or the port of Beira of Mozambique
Plastic waste is a critical environmental concern due to its non-biodegradable nature and bulk storage space requirements. Pyrolysis, a thermochemical process, could be a potential solution to address this growing environmental issue. This article shows how, with a small investment, we can harness the power of circularity at a big enough scale to benefit the business, people and the planet.
Currently, Mozambique is dealing with a significant trash problem. Due to the abundance of visible plastic debris and worn tyres, this problem is highly obvious. The landfills in Mozambique are either overflowing with rubbish or inadequately sanitized (canvas covering between the waste and the ground). As a result, there are an increasing number of illegal dumps, where plastics blow into the surrounding areas. Improperly disposed of waste finds its way into the environment, rivers, and eventually the ocean. Plastic and tire recycling facilities are inadequate in Mozambique. The recyclable tyres and plastics that are gathered for recycling are often shipped to South Africa.
Could we, however, use circularity's potential on a large enough scale to balance out or at the very least lessen our rising emissions profile? Yes, and pyrolysis might be the technology in question. Something is going to happen in Maputo or the harbor city of Beira in Mozambique.
The solution: Plastic to fuel Pyrolysis
A clean, healthy, and wealthy Mozambique with a circular and inclusive economy is what the Mozambican Recycling Association (AMOR) envisions for a sustainable development plan. A procedure known as "cold plasma pyrolysis" may be able to convert plastic trash into clean energy as the nation struggles with rising plastic waste quantities. The installation of a pyrolysis plant in the port of Beira is one idea AMOR has thought about. All types of waste plastics will be converted by the Waste to Fuel platform into high-value products like pyro oil. Circularity would result from selling the fuel produced to ships and shipping businesses. The typical yield of fuel from one tonne (1000 kg) of plastic garbage is between 600 and 700 liters. About 400 liters of diesel are produced for every tonne of tyres.
AMOR took the first measures to advance this program. In order to secure a location close to the Port of Beira for the installation of such a platform, the organization has been in contact with the Municipality of Beira. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding was inked, according to AMOR president Stephane Temperman, who spoke to Africa RISE. Additionally, a collaboration has been established with Pescamar, a business based in the Port of Beira that requires fishing nets and collected debris to be recycled. The continuous flow and operation of the pyrolysis platform would be ensured by the network of roughly 500 semi-formalized collectors and 21 trash collection locations that AMOR has established.
AMOR came to Africa RISE in 2022 to support the development of a feasibility study and a pitch document for prospective investors. The pitch will describe the offering, the terms, and the financials and convey the risks and disclosures the investor needs to know before making a decision. Three experts have been contracted to do the work: Thierry Sanders and Paul Heise from Circular Action BV of the Nederlands (https://circular-action.com) and Dalila Dias from the Mozambiquan firm Greenlight Africa (https://greenlight-africa.com). This study showed that a pyrolysis plant and peripheral machines with a capacity of 10 tonnes of plastics or tyres per day would be the ideal solution for Mozambique. Furthermore, two locations have been considered: the Port of Beira or Maputo.
To completely launch and run the pyroysis pilot, an investment of €1.25 million is required. This sum is divided between 60% CapEx (capital equipment investment) and 40% operational costs until profitability. Based on the aforementioned base case assumptions, the current enterprise value is €3.97 million, meaning that after operating for 2-4 years, this investment will be worth 350% more than it is now. The potential investor(s) would be able to either take on an equity investment or repay its debt over a 2-4 year period.
The investment is projected to generate the following impacts from 2023 to 2028,
● 1.2 million kgs of plastic waste saved from the waterways of Mozambique.
● 1,375 waste pickers earning an additional €576 annually [each]
● 7 million litres of diesel generated – offsetting over 44 thousand barrels of oil otherwise extracted.
● No toxic emissions: the facility has high standard filters to extract all toxic emissions. It is also airtight, preventing ambient oxygen from entering the pyrolysis reactor, which could otherwise cause the production of dioxins.
● 1.4 kg less CO2 emissions from each litre of diesel produced by pyrolysed plastic waste compared to using a litre of diesel from crude oil.
What is next
AMOR, with support from Africa RISE will be pitching to investors and organising investors workshops from February to March 2023.