Trash Travels

Andy Pag has traveled to Timbuktu in a truck powered by chocolate. He’s gone round the world on donated vegetable oil. And in 2008 he organized the “Grease to Greece Rally” for cars running on restaurant discards.

Pag wants to keep on proving that there’s value in a lot of what we currently waste, and he wants to have fun doing it.

A modern-day Lindbergh, Andy is attempting to show us the power of a new kind of fuel by flying the length of England using only garbage to power his flight.

The fuel is made by a British company using Fischer–Tropsch synthesis, a process of making synthetic fuels that dates back to before WWII. By taking tonnes of plastic household and industrial waste which cannot be recycled because it’s mixed and soiled, this process breaks apart the long hydrocarbon chains in plastic to create petrol, diesel and aviation fuel that will power cars, truck and planes. Pag says the fuel is worth highlighting because it produces limited CO2, and reduces the volume of plastics that otherwise would go to landfills.

“This is the first time a plane has been fueled from trash as far as I am aware,” Pag says. “It’s uplifting when you are taking a load of trash and turn it into fuel, and with that you can fly a length of the country. It’s really inspiring.”

Pag’s plan is to fly two or three hours a day, making regular stops to show off the plane and educate people about non-fossil fuels. “We want to make the flight local, as well as national,” he says. “It gives us an opportunity to engage with communities along the way.”

Flying a microlight plane — plastic-based fuel or not — is certainly risky, but adventure-seeker Andy seems ready to get this idea off the ground. Now if Pag could just tackle a flux capacitor, he would really give Doc Brown some competition.

“It’s a pioneering demonstration of the technology, rather than a test flight.”

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