$50 Million Fund for Plastic to Diesel
Edited by Renewlogy
Originally appeared in The Australian (Dec. 15, 2016) –
Melbourne based venture capital firm Trimantium Capital is raising a $US50m ($67.8m) fund to finance the expansion of PK Clean, a firm that converts plastic waste from landfill into usable fuels such as diesel.
PK Clean, the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur Priyanka Bakaya, has already raised funds from Goldman Sachs and government, and has a facility operating out of Utah. It has an agreement signed for its next facility in Canada and has received interest from Australian customers.
Ms Bakaya, who was educated in MIT and Stanford, told The Australian that PK Clean’s technology represented a major breakthrough to the global plastic waste problem, with 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year and just 10 per cent of that recycled.
“Plastic comes from oil, and we’re reversing that process,” she said. “We take the plastic waste and work with local recyclers and take whatever they can’t recycle, and we feed that plastic into our continuous process; we create fuels such as diesel to be sold for industrial and agricultural usage.”
She said every tonne of plastic would yield roughly 950 litres of fuel while the process also generates its own natural gas, which gets recycled to provide enough energy to heat the system.
“It costs roughly $30 a barrel to produce diesel, which can then be sold for roughly $70 a barrel,” Ms Bakaya said.
“Plastic’s one of those things where they put it in a trash can without thinking where it ends up. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, this is a huge global opportunity here.”
Trimantium Capital managing director Phillip Kingston said some local recycling firms had already flown to Salt Lake City to see the PK Clean facility there, and he expected particularly strong interest from Australia given landfill costs can be ten times higher than in Utah.
He’s raising a $US50m fund to finance the building of the next few facilities as a social impact bond that will provide a yield to high net worth families and intelligent institutions.
“There is globally a shortage of scalable social impact investment opportunities, as an institutional investor I always have trouble finding deep investment opportunities that have enough safety to be comfortable with,” he told The Australian.
“These plans are tangible, there’s an asset that sits underneath it, there’s a clear environmental benefit and it’s economically lucrative.
“PK Clean presents one of the most investable and scalable social impact bond opportunities for Australian investors seeking strong financial returns and environmental impact at a potentially global scale.”
Ms Bakaya credits her passion for the environment with the time she spent in the Australian outdoors growing up.
“I was always interested in the environment, after leaving Melbourne, I was at Stanford, but I decided to go to MIT to focus on clean energy solutions,” she said. “Plastic waste was a huge global issue no one was tackling. I don’t just want to make an app, I want to make the world a better place; it’s more challenging but ultimately more rewarding.”