Duo work to make a difference on the world’s plastic problem

Image copyright Picture Beautifying Posted by Patrick R Laois on Saturday, 29 September 2018 Patrick R Laois’s father introduced him to waste management during the family holidays in the Myanmarese capital of Yangon (then…

Duo work to make a difference on the world's plastic problem

Image copyright Picture Beautifying Posted by Patrick R Laois on Saturday, 29 September 2018

Patrick R Laois’s father introduced him to waste management during the family holidays in the Myanmarese capital of Yangon (then Rangoon).

“After a few days, we realised that we were not recycling a thing,” he says.

After moving to Thailand and Singapore, this Monaghan man developed a science degree in environmental engineering and worked for companies abroad before joining Capital Waste Solutions’ new facility in Jakarta.

Image copyright Patrick R Laois/Luke Savage

Mr Laois became fascinated by the problem of plastic production and began to collect plastic from his waste recycling office.

He decided that this was a global problem and that he should do something about it.

“The million dollar question is, what can you do that will not cost you a living,” says Mr Laois.

“If you keep doing the right thing until you’ve collected enough plastic, you can hope to break even with the costs of running your office and hold a clear title for having achieved something of significance.”

Image copyright Patrick R Laois/Luke Savage

Capital Waste Solutions’ office was just one building in Jakarta which was a waste management and recycling company.

The Nusa Dua complex did not meet the company’s goals, so Mr Laois decided to start a large scale campaign of collecting plastic for recycling.

He was able to collect 500 tons of plastic from his office while being at work and was able to circulate it across his company to see where it ended up.

He then spent a year gathering more than 1,000 tons of plastic.

Image copyright Patrick R Laois/Luke Savage

Mr Laois researched plastic recycling solutions and developed a strategy to tackle the problem.

Image copyright Patrick R Laois/Luke Savage

He says that recycling plastic first is an effective method.

“Some plastics have a certain lifespan. When it runs out, you get another one. Others, it breaks down after a certain period and the material can easily get contaminated.”

Mr Laois also wanted to be involved in the issue and find a positive solution.

“What had not existed prior is an ecosystem that would take plastic and convert it back into energy. This could be through harvesting and then using solar, biomass, sustainable waste collection.

“I started thinking about it and saw the future — rather than go against the grain of what I had initially wanted to do, I thought about what I could do for the world,” he says.

The United Nations has put the value of plastic waste at up to $100 trillion.

Image copyright Luke Savage/Ray McManus

The total weight of plastic packaging today amounts to 10.3 trillion kilograms.

On its head, this amounts to 1,000 million cubic metres, equivalent to a waste area that’s the size of 45 African football stadiums.

Mr Laois says that ultimately he is just trying to make a difference.

“I’ve got to be able to talk to my children about this when they are adults and they ask me what I did when I was a kid,” he says.

“Maybe we can make a difference together to make a bigger difference.”

Read the full story here.

Leave a Comment