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LETTER: Biofuels plant raises concern

I was appalled to read of the proposed organics and plastics waste processing plant for Sooke ( News , Jan. 27).

I was appalled to read of the proposed organics and plastics waste processing plant for Sooke (News, Jan. 27).

Coun. Jeff Bateman is right on the money with the attributed quote: “This seems like a very science-fiction magic bullet.”

Firstly the very idea of using the “captured” carbon embodied in waste plastic and converting it into fuels that are burnt into more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is ludicrous in a climate emergency. The process would be increasing fossil fuel consumption by another route, via plastic.

RELATED: Sooke eyed for new $55-million biofuels plant

This proposal is also science fiction in another sense.

As a scientist with a chemistry background, I know that plastic is a generic term for a variety of polymer-based compounds, each with different chemical structures depending on the original purpose of its use (packaging, bags, bottles etc.) No single process can magically turn these other mixed polymers into functional monomers and chemical feedstock products. There is considerable waste sorting, disposal of unwanted plastics, and development of multiple depolymerization processes problems ignored or glossed over here.

In addition, there is no commercial installation of the quoted electro-depolymerization process in operation other than for lignin. Poly-olefins like polythene are currently processed using thermal depolymerization techniques at high temperatures (420C), requiring vast amounts of energy inputs.

District of Sooke, please do not be seduced by apparently simple solutions to complex problems. The answer to plastic waste is not to turn it all into GHG emissions.

Roland Alcock


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