What matters is to try something different to realize carbon neutrality based on the reality we face.
One of the few options is already available.
It is City Oil Field’s technology that turns waste plastic made of oil back to oil.
5-1. Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), ‘calm before the storm’
Humans have a tendency to focus more on a penny of tomorrow than famine 10 years later. Today’s survival takes precedence over anything else. It is said that farmers do not eat grains for farming even though he is almost starved to death. But no one can survive without food for weeks. Moreover, people do not recognize the true face of the crisis itself unless there is an imminent crisis. They are hiding the fear of the future behind with the groundless wishful thinking that crisis will not come.
Politicians who want to win a vote from the public to get an official position knows this characteristics of humans better than anyone. None of the candidates who declared their willingness to run for president have not raised the issue of (still tolerable) climate crisis. Instead, they are trying to emphasize regime change or recreation, sustainable growth or 4th industrial revolution, which will be of no use in the face of disasters caused by climate change. It is not because they do not know the climate crisis that will come definitely. Talking about future crisis does not help win the votes. It is better to talk about growth and gross national income of USD 40,000 to win votes. We know that this stance will not change no matter who is elected based on our experience.
Manmade climate change is one of the most severe and dangerous problems facing humans so far. The international community agreed to take immediate actions to stop or reverse what is happening. Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 and UN Sustainable Development Goals are the greatest common goal agreed to ‘save the earth’ in order to avoid the destruction caused by climate change. However, we do not know (or pretend not to know) the significance of the situation as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), which was supposed to be binding, is not binding under the international law.
Korea, the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world as of 2019, is the 9th largest greenhouse gas emission country as of 2018 but Korea is nearly at the bottom in terms of climate change performance index. Korea agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 but we do not know to what level our previous commitment has been accomplished while the international community knows about it. Changes in action to achieve carbon neutrality is not easy. As so many stakeholders want to keep the status quo. To make matters worse, the status of Korea was upgraded from a developing country to a developed country in July 2021. This is a message or a bill that Korea will be required to act more responsibly according to its status.
|On June 7, Song Young-gil, the leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, National Assembly members An Ho-young, Kim Kyo-heung, Lee So-young, and Shin Dong-geun, Lee Jae-hyeon Head of Seo-gu District Office, Incheon, CEO Seo Joo-won of SUDOKWON Landfill Site Management Corp., Officer Hong Dong-gon of Resource Recirculation Policy Division of the Ministry of Environment visited City Oil Field’s R.G.O. facility site in SUDOKWON Landfill Site and listened to the explanation of City Oil Field. Song Young-gil, leader of the Democratic Party of Korea emphasized that ” we value the new attempt of renewable energy companies and I’d like to ask organizations such as the Ministry of Environment and local governments to cooperate to develop patented technologies further.”/ Photo=City Oil Field|
5-2. Changing its words on the implementation of carbon neutrality leads to the path of self-destruction.
The important thing is that prosperous countries (our major export destinations) which are implementing the agreement faithfully, believe that their survival depends on the ‘save the earth’ agreement. They also believe that of a country does not fulfill the agreement well, the countries which tried their best to implement the agreement, will face a common fate.
If the future or survival of countries are in jeopardy due to countries which are not implementing carbon reduction well such as C or K, there will be no mercy or consideration for C or K. It is clear that the criticism against C or K is not just a rhetoric. The consequences of not implementing the agreement will be economic sanctions. Companies in C or K countries are listed as companies for investment ban and inter-governmental agreement is forced to be adjusted again. As high rate of carbon tax and border tax are imposed to products made in those countries, exporting products become impossible. If such period comes, we cannot just pretend that the problem is caused by others as we have been doing so far.
If the implementation of our commitment (duty) is not sufficient or our commitment to carbon neutrality is changed, we may be isolated from the international community and find it hard to export our products. In that case, not all of us die but all of us will suffer. We know very well how economic instability makes humans a desperate stupid as we have directly experienced several times.
The collapse of economic foundation makes everyone act conservatively. Out of fear, they find easy solution even though it is not the correct answer. They take ways not for everyone’s survival but for one’s own survival. Before we face this situation, we need to ask a critical question ‘what should we do now?’ and find answers. For this question and answer, we have only a vague and faint images. We think we know the problem but we do not understand the essence of the problem. Moreover, people show little reflection or action to find the answer to the question.
5-3. ‘A thirsty man digs a well’
We should not focus on achieving INDC when it comes to decarbonization policy. Because we need to contribute to global climate response. However, we do not have time in absolute terms to make goods and services which do not and will not generate carbon emissions within agreed period. As we cannot grow spouts immediately after sowing the seeds, this problem cannot be solved overnight. Relying on the goodwill of companies and individuals for this problem is the cheapest but most uncertain solution.
We need to be desperate when we find ways to maintain our survival when we face crisis. As the speed of falling down to a dead-end is getting faster and faster, we do not have time to waste arguing over ideas that are far from the reality. The way to secure the means of survival in times of crisis influences significantly to our way of thinking. If something one cannot understand determines the survival, it is hard to understand. First, we need to share (understand) the significance of the crisis, judge the current state objectively and accurately, agree on the way forward and implement the agreed measures aggressively.
|City Oil Field’s R.G.O equipment with different capacity/Photo= City Oil Field|
5-4. Contributing to carbon neutrality by recycling waste plastics chemically
The policy to turn waste plastics into energy is one of the key in the government’s 2050 carbon neutrality implementation goals. Out of 9 million tons of waste plastics and waste vinyl, about 6 million tons are used as sloid fuel or burned and more than 1 million tons of plastics are directly buried (2019 The Board of Audit and Inspection Data). For the 1 million tons of plastics which are buried directly in the land, actions should be taken such as burning or making and using them as solid fuel.
In reality, however, there is a limitation to increase the recycling rate and it is hard to treat waste plastics and vinyl at existing incineration facilities designed based on low calorific value (2,200kcal/kg or less) in the late 1990s as they have high calorific value (3,500kcal/kg or more). In addition, there is few client for solid fuels due to policy hurdles. In this situation, there is no way forward.
As a result, not only the 1 million tons of combustible waste currently being buried directly, but also combustible waste which was made and processed into solid fuel needs to be buried directly, accelerating the end-of-life of exiting public landfill sites and neglecting waste plastics and waste vinyl. In particular, the significant problem is the treatment of low grade waste plastics and waste vinyl which are hard to be recycled.
As waste plastics (in particular, low-grade waste plastics and waste vinyl) other than waste plastics that can be recycled as material should be recycled into energy as they are based on oil rather than burying them. Recycling of waste plastics chemically should contribute to carbon neutrality. However, it is hard to install the plants that turn waste to energy including gasification and Solid Refuse Fuel (SRF) are difficult to install due to strong opposition from residents.
Under such circumstances, the Ministry of Environment felt the need for supporting waste recycling industry at the national level and announced its plan to expand recycling of waste plastics using pyrolysis on 21st of last month. The plan is to make sure that if petrochemical companies produce naphtha and diesel oil from waste plastics using pyrolysis, they can be recycled as petroleum products, to install waste plastic pyrolysis facility in the waste landfill facilities and revise laws to make sure that companies which use materials recycled with pyrolysis can be recognized for carbon emission rights.
If relevant regulations are revised according to the Ministry of the Environment’s plan to expand the recycling of waste plastics using pyrolysis, City Oil Field’s R.G.O technology will add value to waste resources and bring about new vitality to waste plastic recycling product market. Ultra-light Naphtha extracted during the liquid fuel production and flash point control in the R.G.O process has already been well recognized as the material for petroleum product by chemical companies and City Oil Field, which received request from those companies, started R&D on extracting Naphtha with even quality.
|R.G.O plant layout/Photo=City Oil Field|
5-5. ‘A stroke of genius’ hidden behind ‘save the earth’
As explained in the previous article (City Oil Field Part 1 and 2), a Korean company possesses a proprietary technology that turns things originated from oil back to oil. City Oil Field developed a new technology that goes beyond the stage of burning waste plastics and waste vinyl to use them as thermal energy to convert them to oil.
How to set the initial value determines the results to solve the waste to energy problem. If the energy circulation system based on R.G.O technology of City Oil Field is set as initial value for environmental policy, various problems related to incineration, burial and turning waste into thermal energy can be solved. In addition, the regeneration technology of City Oil Field helps induce the creation of perfect recycling market and take a step closer to achieving carbon neutrality goal. Moreover, it can serve as a growth engine by exporting the new technology to the international environmental pollution treatment market.
|Chuncheon City signed an MOU with City Oil Field to provide the site to install R.G.O mechanical equipment with daily capacity of 24 tons and provide waste vinyl and waste plastic./ Photo= City Oil Field|
5-6. Views on R.G.O technology from other countries
It has been 10 years since the development of the technology by City Oil Field and Korea was in turmoil with the issue of waste vinyl and waste plastic due to the incident called ‘garbage crisis’ in 2018. But overseas companies paid attention to the technology first.
China was the first country to identify the potential of the City Oil Field’s technology and took steps actively. China has proposed City Oil Field’s entry into China and joint project continuously since 2018 through China National General Machinery Engineering Corporation under the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.
Melville Laboratory of Cambridge University, UK received research fund of £100,000 (KRW 160 million) from Cambridge University with an aim of developing applied technology to be used in the industry using ceramic compound wave energy of City Oil Field. To conduct the research, it established a research center for joint research with City Oil Field.
iQ International AG, which has headquarters in Switzerland and conducts environmental business through sustainable technologies in the US express its willingness for equity investment and partnership to enter the US market after recognizing the value of City Oil Field’s technology.
An official from City Oil Field talked about the high attention from overseas companies as follows.
“City Oil Field has been seeking opportunities to install R.G.O plants at home and abroad. However, domestic companies which listened to the technology demand the demonstration of the principle of our ceramic compound wave energy, which is our trade secret, and local governments responded that it would be better to run the facility in other regions first based on concern about local residents’ complaints while recognizing our technology. However, on the other hand, overseas companies take a stance to promote business rapidly to take a dominant position in the recycled product market by utilizing our technology rather than focusing on our trade secret.”
City Oil Field is a Korean company. The Korean company secures a globally competitive proprietary technology and is willing to improve the national status with its technology but it is neglected in Korea and well recognized by overseas markets. It is ironic but familiar situation. Why is that?
5-7. Receiving orders from domestic companies, local governments and signing export contract with Indonesia and Australia in July
Most Southeast Asian countries face severe waste plastic problems. Most of the plastics are sorted roughly and burned in the open field or disposed in the nature by people without a guilty conscience in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Otherwise, there are many waste plastic piles like ‘Euiseong Waste Mountain’ in Korea, which remains as it is until the business owner runs away. As the waste plastics are burned or decomposed in the nature, they pollute surrounding regions and penetrate into the body of residents, causing cancer, hormonal abnormalities and neurological diseases.
Above all, infrastructure such as power transmission facilities are not secured so each plant, company and household need to install its own power generator. In this situation, R.G.O technology is well recognized for solving waste plastic issue while providing fuel for power generation so these countries expressed their willingness to introduce R.G.O technology.
The first order for R.G.O process was received from Indonesia and Australia. In July this year, private companies from Indonesia and Australia and City Oil Field signed an agreement for R.G.O plant with the capacity of 24 tons. This agreement is a demonstration that City Oil Field’s R.G.O process is the most realistic way to solve waste plastic problems in Southeast Asian countries considering cost and size of environmental pollution treatment, feasibility and recyclability.
In Korea, C, a private company, which secured site in Incheon signed an MOU with City Oil Field plans to order mechanical machine in July to proceed the installation of 24-ton capacity equipment within Incheon City. Local governments which are struggling with waste plastics discard on land and int he sea as well as waste treatment problem are trying to find solution from R.G.O technology developed by City Oil Field. Haenam-gun, Chuncheon-si and Yeonsu-gu have signed the contract to introduce the technology or have been in discussion with City Oil Field.
5-8. Need to focus on ‘environmental pollution treatment market’
City Oil Field has been making mechanical equipment with various capacity and testing its performance for the past 10 years since it developed R.G.O technology. One of the largest advantage of the City Oil Field’s technology is that it can be adjusted depending on the characteristics of the installation sites. The daily capacity can be reduced by 10kg and batch type module equipment which is now in commercialization phase can be expanded without limitation if the land for installation is secured.
In fact, overseas companies propose joint project to City Oil Field. Advanced countries apply automated logistics system for efficient workforce allocation and make it possible for the workforce to operate the equipment in a separated operation room, focusing on worker safety. In the meantime, developing countries which prefer vitalization of the local economy, job creation and high added value of products, focus on producing high quality liquid fuel by assigning workforce for pre-treatment process and increasing the purity of waste vinyl and waste plastic put into the machine.
Even for agricultural, fishing area or islands in Korea where population density is low and there is distribution of population by point so that collection and transport of agricultural waste vinyl and marine waste are hard, it is easy to establish energy self-sufficiency community by providing products to farmers and fishermen in the region or establish pwoer generation facilities together after installing small-sized recycling facilities and establishing a monitoring system based on facility management and operation standards.
Even though R.G.O technology of City Oil Field promtoes paradigm shift in the waste recycling area, it does not mean that recycling companies with existing technologies are eliminated and social conflicts arise.
Given the urgency of waste plastic problem, new waste recycling companies face big obstacles as they have to secure a site that meets the requirement to reduce collection and transport cost as the site is closer to city centers where waste vinyl and waste plastics are generated and obtain new license and permission.
So if facility fund and tax benefits are provided to existing waste recycling companies, which secured license, site, and waste plastic raw material for waste recycling but face financial difficulties due to technological limitation, so that they can introduce City Oil Field’s technology, it will be a way to promote shared growth with waste recycling companies in severe financial difficulties and reduce conflicts with residents significantly by using existing facilities.
The story will continue in <City Oil Field Part 3-2>
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