Microbes Convert Plastic Waste Into Fertilizer, Heat and Energy


In Australia, POET Systems developed two new machines as part of the first system to use anaerobic digestion technology to turn plastic waste into energy and fertilizer. The machines can process about 20 tons of plastic each week and POET expects to start operating them in about a year. The technology has been successfully tested with polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene – plastics that usually aren’t recycled and headed for landfills.

The two machines will be installed at a wastewater treatment plant where microbes will treat the plastic and water at the same time. The microbes then die and leave behind liquid and solid biomass that can be used as fertilizer and biogas which they hope can be converted to heat and energy to power the wastewater plant. This new system will help plastic be handled via microbial digestion faster than before and POET hopes that will make it commercially viable.