Advanced wastewater treatment technology for the plastics recycling industry
The plastic recycling industry plays an important role in sub–Saharan Africa where waste management facilities are not optimal. Large-scale recycling facilities provide the impetus for small-scale collection points and buy-back centres and serve as the commercial catalyst for local plastics recycling initiatives and clean-ups.
Plastic recycling is however resource-intensive in terms of energy and water use. The process requires intensive initial washing and then re-washing of the plastic waste after flaking. Without specialised filtration, the large volumes are wastewater from the process will include organic and chemical residues, which contribute to chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological oxygen demand (BOD) and heavy metals and microplastics. This has associated ecosystem and human health consequences.
Mr Green Africa is installing an effluent treatment plant (ETP) at their Nairobi facility to treat the wastewater emanating from the plastic cleaning processes, which will then meet appropriate reuse standards, that are aligned with ISO certification. 80% of the treated water to be reused and will enable increased plastics recycling capacity at the plant to the tune of 70 kilotons per annum.
The pilot will reduce microplastics, heavy metals (such as lead) and other process chemicals from detergents and solvents which are released in the process wastewater and costs of sludge disposal.
By applying the cost-saving information and boosted capacity against the capital investment, Mr Green Africa aim to demonstrate the case for water treatment technologies in the plastics recycling industry.
Photo credit: Mr Green Africa
The project is in its inception phase, with updates forthcoming in the next quarter of implementation.