One of the Fund’s investment areas is waste industry and therefore, the Fund is interested in implementing projects aimed to increase the amount of the processed waste, which, being collected, endanger the natural environment. The development of aware society and higher industrial output lead to an increase in the amount of waste produced and, consequently, in a demand for waste management technologies. An alternative scenario predicts that the negative impact of human activities on the natural environment will soon be reflected on the worsening of living standards.
National Waste Management Plan 2014 adopted by the Polish government in December 2010 points out specified directions and objectives concerning municipal waste industry for the period of 2011-2014 and 2015-2022. They include increasing waste recovery, especially in terms of the recycling of glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard as well as energy recovered from waste compliant with environmental protection requirements, decreasing the amount of waste going to landfills, supporting economically and ecologically effective waste recovery and disposal technologies, including those allowing for recycling and recovery of energy gathered in waste which undergoes biochemical and thermal treatment. NWMP 2014 notices that agglomerations with above 300 000 residents should use thermal methods of waste disposal with energy recovery in a cogeneration scheme enabling the production of heat and electricity. Such a solution is also one of evaluation criteria for projects applying for the EU funds within Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme, Priority II: “Waste disposal and earth surface protection”. It may be used in regions with above 500 000 residents
Polish municipal waste management market faces the necessity to open to new technologies for the recovery and recycling of raw materials. The experience of previous years shows that administrative restrictions in this area may constitute an obstacle to the growth of economy innovation and the fulfilment of obligations arising from Polish membership in the European Union. Investment projects from the field of waste management industry focus on designing and building factories for depolymerisation of plastics to paraffin oils. High level of innovativeness which is the feature of the used technologies makes the planned undertakings highly competitive. The investment aims to gain relatively high return rates and to increase the amount of recyclable plastic waste.
Every year, landfills are flooded with millions tons of waste, or one should rather say resources, which after being processed can generate profits. The development of the recycling market is largely influenced by Polish membership in the European Union, which places great emphasis on pro-ecological activities. In accordance with the requirements of the European Union, the recycling of materials contained in waste should increase, and by 2030 should reach approx. 70%. The European Union desires to increase the importance of recycling what means that the industries associated with it can count on financial support in 2014-2020. It should not be perceived as a waste elimination system, but as an intermediate production system for industry and manufacturers.
Recycling is an industry for which the raw material will never end. With the development of civilization, there is also increasing the waste. As a result, the entire global waste industry worded EUR 14 billion in 2011. According to experts’ estimations, at the end of 2015, this value has already reached EUR 21 billion. Experts predict that in 2020 the value of the whole industry is expected to reach EUR 35 billion. Therefore, it is reasonable to invest in markets where recycling is just being developed. Markets such as Poland.
According to data from 2014, the average Polish citizen produces 314 kg of municipal waste per year. The National Waste Management Plan 2014 informs that, annually, the Poles threw approx. 1.5 million tons of paper, 1.2 million tons of glass, 0.3 million tons of metal and 1.5 million tons of plastics - a total of 4.5 million tons of raw materials that could be reused. The value of the said secondary raw materials is about PLN 2.6 billion per year. It is worth noting that the law on waste management in Poland was in force already in 2014. Nonetheless, Poland did not recovered above-mentioned secondary raw materials, thus losing opportunity to generate profit. According to the available data, 15% is the current recycling rate, so it is not difficult to calculate that 85% of raw materials goes irretrievably to landfills or is burnt. It is estimated that if recovered, they would generate annually approx. PLN 2.2 billion. Instead of being profitable, raw materials contained in the waste generate substances harmful to the environment and huge cost of storage.
Processing and recovery of the necessary raw materials now seem to gain a new meaning. The great versatility of plastics and their ability to be re-used meant that they are becoming more popular, therefore, sustained increase in demand for this material is expected in the coming years. In addition, European law requires practical solutions, such as a gradual reduction in the number of landfills and waste collection improvement. The European Commission obliges consumers of plastic raw materials to design their products so as to contain min. 20 percent of recycled components. It is clear that investors want to invest their finances in a modern enterprise with a high return rate. One such industry is recycling. In the era of promoting responsible business and sustainable development of the industry, this is an ideal alternative for environmentally questionable investments.
For building an ecologically and economically effective waste management system, not only legislative conditions but also innovative technologies, well-functioning infrastructure and economic balance are equally important.
Pyrolysis is an innovative process of depolymerizing plastic to paraffin oils. It occurs through the decomposition of the hydrocarbon chains at elevated temperature, absence of oxygen and using a catalyst. As a result, we get a product with novel properties. The final product of the catalytic depolymerisation process is a component of liquid fuels, synthetic paraffin - which is a component of diesel and heating oil substitute.
The value of Polish plastics market is currently estimated at around EUR 15 billion. In 2011, in European Union countries, the overall rate of recovery and recycling was 59.6% and in 2014, this value increased to 61.9%. At the same time, the amount of waste collected for landfill decreased by 5.5% and the amount of recovered energy increased by 3.3%. Available estimates suggest that as far as Poland is concerned, there are 300-350 thousand tons of plastic waste recycled per year, with packaging waste being the biggest part of it. Therefore, pyrolysis is a response to the need for development of a large amount of unnecessary packaging, tires and other waste that cannot be safely disposed of or dumped in landfills without possible harmful effects on the environment.
Currently, recovery scale of waste suitable to undergo pyrolysis processes is small in Poland, while in neighboring Germany it reaches 80% of waste. According to data from the last few years concerning the plastics industry market, Poland performs positively in comparison to the rest of Europe. Data for 2013 show that production of these materials has increased by about 2.7%, thus reaching 2.9 million tons. This was mainly possible due to the improvement of the situation in related industries. Electrical, electronic and construction industry generate steady demand for such products. In some industries (household appliances, car industry), the past years have been a period of intensive investment, the result of which is an increase in demand for plastics.
The high degree of innovation of available technologies guarantees the competitiveness of the pyrolysis plant projects. One technology line may convert an estimated 3,500 tons of the product each year. The additional result of the investment is the reduction of pollutants emitted to the atmosphere. Recovery and recycling of waste may become one of the economic development instruments and a source of technological innovations. Provisions concerning the recovery of waste require any municipality to achieve by 2020 the 50% waste recovery suitable for recycling. You should therefore find such method of waste management that would allow for its re-use.
The huge problem is caused by not only rubber or plastic waste but also „tetra pack” - milk and juices cartons, which, due to the aluminium content, shall not be processed using simple methods. Currently, they are mainly utilized, burnt or buried deep in the ground. The process of pyrolysis can be seen as a waste management system or as a method of manufacturing high-energy intermediate for the industry. The investment in this technology is characterized by a high level of income compared to the costs of operation.