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                  The Plastic Waste Stream
World’s first PET Aerogel made from recycled bottles
A research team from Singapore found a solution to the world’s plastic pollution problem — by converting plastic waste into Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) aerogels.
Associate Professor Hai Minh Duong, at the Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS), led his team to develop the world’s first PET Aerogel made from recycled bottles. Not only did the innovation help to address the plastic waste problem, it spun off practical applications including heat and sound insulation, CO2 and dust particle filtering, personal care such as diapers, medical devices and oil and non-polar liquid absorption.
Converting plastic waste into high- value materials is not the only technological breakthrough the NUS research team has achieved. They also found a way to make the world’s first aerogels from rubber tyres. Globally, about a billion car tyres are discarded every year — only 40 percent are recycled, and the
bulk are burned, releasing toxic gases. The novel rubber aerogels created by the NUS team offer remarkable properties for wide-ranging applications.
Plastic Recovery Facility
in the pipeline
In Singapore, domestic waste makes up about 52 percent of total waste disposed, and there is currently no local facility that recovers contaminated plastics from domestic waste disposed of.
In January 2021, NEA awarded the tender for the feasibility study and design of a pilot plastic recovery facility (PRF) to engineering firm HTP GmbH & Co which specialises in the planning and design of waste management and recycling systems.
The feasibility study will help NEA identify and assess the design and capacity of the pilot PRF, as well as requirements for a suitable site. The study will also propose the technologies and equipment required to recover up to 72,000 tonnes per year of plastics waste for chemical recycling. In addition, the study will evaluate the cost and revenue drivers, optimal operating
parameters, and quantify the cost-benefit analysis of diverting plastics from incineration for chemical recycling. This study is expected to start in early 2021 and be completed by 3Q 2021.
The facility would be “a key enabler in closing the waste loop, especially for plastics”, NEA said.
Managing Food Waste
According to the NEA website, food waste accounts for about 10 percent of the total waste generated in Singapore, but only 18 percent of the food waste is recycled. The rest of it is disposed of at the waste-to-energy (WTE) plants for incineration.
The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 20 percent over the past 10 years and is expected to increase with the nation’s growing population and economic activity.
Singapore’s first urban
insect farm
Transforming waste into high value biomaterials is the mission of Insectta, the first urban insect farm in Singapore to rear black soldier flies to process food waste and turn fly frass into organic food for plants and its larvae for animals.
The biotech company’s R&D team works with cutting edge technology and research to produce materials for a multitude of industries. For example, research by Insectta found that biochemicals extracted from the larvae can be used to produce chitosan, a potent wound- healing agent. The growing S$11 billion chitosan market sees applications not only in pharmaceuticals but also cosmetics, anti- microbial food packaging, and agrotech.

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