‘ON WINGS OF WASTE’ – THE 10 PER CENT SOLUTION
The 'On Wings of Waste' flight is an ambitious, daring and historic initiative to raise awareness about end of life plastic waste in our oceans and to highlight its potential benefits as a new source of fuel. The main partner in the project is UK based Plastic Energy, a world-leading pioneer in the conversion of end-of-life plastic waste into synthetic fuels.
The World’s oceans are crammed with discarded plastic waste particles which are destroying the environment, killing wildlife and – ultimately – damaging human health.
One refuse truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute - the equivalent of eight million tons of plastic entering the oceans every year.
‘On Wings of Waste’, through the proof of concept flight of Jeremy Rowsell and Chris Clark, and Jeremy’s solo flight from Sydney to Melbourne, has proved that end of life plastic waste can be transformed from a pollutant into a viable alternative jet A1 fuel sourced from UK based Plastic Energy. The ‘On Wings of Waste’ campaign aims to inspire people to recycle plastic waste and back the ‘10 per cent solution’.
Jeremy's vision crystallised when he reached agreement with Plasticenegry, a Spanish based company, producing fuel made from end of life plastic. What emerged was the perfect marriage between the man, inspired by the barnstorming pilots of the 1930s with a mission to spread the word about marine plastic pollution, and a company passionate about the environment, delivering on the sustainable circular economy.
The project dubbed 'On Wings of Waste' was born. Jeremy has now flown a WAM RV-9 two seater aircraft in the skies above Wollongong and from Sydney to Melbourne. The 'On Wings of Waste' flight is an ambitious, daring and historic initiative to raise awareness about end of life plastic waste in our oceans and to highlight its potential benefits as a new source of fuel.
Jeremy needs your support to bring the world's attention to plastic pollution and to ignite a global campaign for change
So please donate if you would like to support the ‘On Wings of Waste’ project which has four aims:
RECYCLE – public support for a recycling campaign
RE-USE – plastic waste transformed into fuel to be blended with Jet A1
REFUEL – airlines start to use a 10% blend of fuel derived from plastic waste
RESCUE – pollution of the world’s oceans is slowed down and eventually halted.
Here is a quick 2min video featuring Pilot Jeremy Rowsell and Sir David Attenborough to further explain the reason behind these historic flights in a plane fueled from refined plastics.
Here is a quick 2min video featuring Pilot Jeremy Rowsell and Sir David Attenborough to further explain this historic flight from Australia to London in a small single engine plane fuelled from refined plastics pulled directly from the ocean.
To test our proposition that end of life plastic waste can be used as an alternative fuel for aircraft, as well as other machines, we needed to go through a demanding process to prove it can have a practical and universal use.
Unlike fuels for other vehicles, the most common aviation fuel – avgas – still contains lead which is toxic and damaging to the environment. So the benefits of the flights are twofold. They represent a breakthrough in fuel technology, helping to clean up end of life plastics whilst also generating a globally sustainable energy source.
To put all of this in perspective, a 747 aircraft on a 10,000 mile flight burns 36,000 gallons of fuel and 33% per cent of airlines’ operating costs are spent on fuel – up from 13 per cent in 2001. If 3,600 (UK) gallons of that fuel was sourced from plastic waste it would be the equivalent of 18 tonnes of waste plastic that might otherwise be dumped in the ocean. Factor in the 1200 flights a day that are made from Heathrow, and approximately 21,600 tonnes of waste plastic would be transformed from pollutant to fuel – every day.
In 2011, pilot Jeremy Rowsell flew across the Pacific to retrace the epic “Southern Cross” flight endeavor of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Sir Charles Ulm in a tiny single engine light aircraft. The purpose of this flight was to raise awareness and money for the heroic daily work of the Royal Flying Doctors pilots. The flight was a catalyst for ‘On Wings of Waste’ and led to the planning and training provided by Zerorisk for current campaign.
The On Wings of Waste flight is an ambitious and unique project to raise awareness about plastic waste and to highlight its potential benefits as a new source of fuel. The initial plan to fly half way across the world using fuel derived from plastic waste, stemmed from Jeremy’s fascination with the 1930’s pioneering aviators; their incredible, often dangerous, journeys, their tales of survival and their desire to break new records. What Jeremy shares with the pilots of yesteryear is the determination and tenacity to make a difference in the world, to help pioneer change and inform the world. His flights in Australia are the precursor to more ambitious ‘plastic’ fuel tests.
On Wings of Waste is based on scientific evidence that fuel derived from end of life plastic waste is capable of driving a light aircraft on this epic journey. The team from ‘On Wings of Waste’ has connected with UK company Plastic Energy, a pioneering plastics-to-fuel technology company, which has developed commercially viable plastic to diesel fuel conversion.
The fuel, produced by Plastic Energy, uses end of life plastic, normally found in garbage patches in the ocean and landfill sites, where it takes hundreds of years to degrade the waste into recyclable material. 95% of the end of life material is usable for diesel fuel and the remaining 5%, known as ‘Char’ is a solid which can be used, for example, as fuel additive or pigment.
Plastic Energy use a process called TAC (Thermal Anaerobic Conversion). Plastics are heated in an oxygen-free environment to prevent them from burning, and then broken into their component hydrocarbons to create the equivalent of a petroleum distillate. This can then be separated into different fuels. As there is no burning of the plastics, but rather a melting process, there are NO toxic emissions released into the environment.
Plastic Energy has a two prong approach. Through waste management, the company reduces landfilling of plastic waste and incineration offering an environmentally friendly and profitable alternative for end-of-life plastics. It then uses the waste to produce synthetic, second generation fuels, offering a better alternative to bio-fuels.
Jeremy began his career as a pilot when he was aged 15 and in his time as a pilot he has flown aerobatics, volunteered for the Royal Flying Doctors service and undertaken a series of adventures in single engine aeroplanes.
Over time, Jeremy has also become an environmental pioneer, seeking to develop sustainable solutions to the worlds increasing pollution exposures. To Jeremy, On Wings of Waste represents a chance to find an economically viable way to protect our most precious natural assets.
Tony Loughran is a former British commando, who during his 14 years in the armed forces worked around the world from Norway to Belize.
Now he trains journalists in risk management and basic survival techniques. Tony led the BBC's High Risk Unit, but he now lives in Australia, working with Australian and Asian networks.