Plastic fantastic: tech firm turns plastic waste into fuel

The Handerek technology could help reduce plastic waste. Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

A Polish company is using technology to turn plastic waste into fuel, which saves it from the landfill and creates a valuable resource.

Plastic waste is a huge problem globally, with millions of tonnes of it ending up in the ocean every year. The EU has been taking steps to tackle the problem by transforming how plastic products are designed, used, produced and recycled. This includes making people more mindful of what they consume, but also getting companies on board.

One of the companies tackling plastic waste is Handerek Technologies. Based in Warsaw, it offers what it calls “innovative, sustainable and profitable” to the global waste problem.

The firm’s solution is based on chemical recycling, which involves using technology to break down the molecular structures in waste, enabling it to be turned into fuels, chemicals and other resources.

Plastic waste is a leading source of pollution.Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

Handerek has successfully been raising money in order to turn its plans into a bricks-and-mortar reality. In 2018, it raised capital for a first pilot programme, and more recently, it secured PLN 47 million in financing to build a commercial installation that can process 10,000 tonnes of plastic per year. Eventually, it plans to build 5-7 installations in Poland and license them abroad.

As the company highlights, the solutions need to be a cost effective alternative to common ways of disposing of plastic, landfilling and incineration, so that companies have a financial incentive to recycle it. They should also be technically scalable so that waste can be processed at the local level, without having to transport it far, which has a high carbon footprint.

The company was founded in January 2018 by Adam Hańderek, a Polish scientist with more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, and Susan Kim-Chomicka, who serves as the company’s CEO. Hańderek, who is the company’s CTO, had started researching technological processes for dealing with plastics in the mid-2000s, after observing the growing impact of plastic waste on the environment.

Handerek Technologies’ approach is rooted in science, and has an R&D staffed by people who have  over 30 years of experience developing patented technologies.