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Plastic to Oil Fantastic
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Plastic to Oil Fantastic
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Around seven percent of the world's oil is used to produce and manufacture plastic -- that's more than the entire African continent uses. But a new machine converts plastics back into oil, encouraging responsible disposal of garbage, and reducing CO2 emissions in the process.
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Produced by United Nations University.

Learn more about the "plastic problem" from the United Nations University.

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Segment 1

TITLE
OurWorld 2.0
AKINORI ITO [CEO, Blest Corporation]
As a child, I enjoyed playing in nature. I didn't care about the environment. But since I came here and had my own children, the places where I used to play as a child have disappeared. So I wanted to do something about that. From 2000, there was talk of global warming. Also, in Japan, there is very little space for garbage. Elsewhere in the world there are few places to dispose of garbage and the effects of trash can be very bad. So by using Japanese technology, we thought we could convert plastic back into oil. It's made from oil, so it's probably not very difficult to convert it back. That's how we started.
AKINORI ITO
This is the oil conversion machine. I have just removed the lid. We put the plastic in here. These are the plastic ingredients that will make the oil. One good point of the small machine is you don't have to break down the trash. You can put it in just as it is. It's then easy to understand that it turns into oil. I will now turn it on. The temperature will begin to rise. The plastics begin to melt and become a liquid. After the liquid boils, the gas passes through here and enters here. This is tap water. The water cools the gas and turns the gas into oil. The oil is okay to burn as is. You can further process it to make gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. If you separate the oil, then you can use it for a car, or a motorbike, or a generator, a boiler, and a stove. You can use it in the same way as regular oil. From 1kg of plastic, you can make 1 liter of oil. If you burn 1kg of plastic it turns into 3kg of CO2. Using electricity and heat, we can return it to oil and reduce about 80 percent of CO2 emissions.
AKINORI ITO
Even in developed countries, garbage is scattered by uncaring people. In developing countries, even if they care they don't know how. So I take this machine there and teach them. This is the only machine that can be transported by plane. We take it to Africa, the Philippines, or the Marshall Islands. And with the children there, we collect garbage and make oil. People begin to see that this is not garbage. This plastic waste, the bottle cap, the lunch container is oil. When a child understands this, the garbage gets cleaned up. People don't know that garbage is oil, that's why they are throwing it away. If they know it can become oil, then they collect it. It's an oil field! A plastic oil field.
AKINORI ITO
In Japan, we use oil that travels great distances from Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. It is a purified at a refinery, and delivered by tank trucks, and we go to buy it at a gas station. The CO2 footprint is very high. If we turned our plastic garbage back into oil, then our total CO2 emissions could be much lower. If the whole world were to start doing this, the amount of CO2 would decrease dramatically. It's a waste, isn't it? This is a treasure.
TITLE
OurWorld 2.0
TITLE
ourworld.unu.edu