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"Plastic Waste to Energy" workshop in Cuba

24.07.2017 Foundation

During this workshop, thirty Cuban experts from diverse backgrounds joined R4W team to talk about plastic pollution and energy transition. Everyone had the chance to visit the vessel, perfect demonstrator of the solar-hydrogen-kite energy mix, and discover its itinerary exhibition presenting the essential role played by the ocean and the plastic contamination challenge.

It was then time for presentations. Moderator Manuel Fernández Rondón from the Agencia de Energia Nuclear y Technologías de Avanzada allowed Arianna García Chamero, a biologist from CITMA (Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente) to speak first. She presented findings from her unpublished study on the effects of microplastics on the Cuban marine ecosystem, and her data probably came as a surprise to many people from the audience who discovered these plastic particles and the environmental risks that they represent. 

Camille Rollin, "Plastic Waste to Energy" project specialist for R4W, then presented the Biogreen® technology, developed by ETIA, R4W's technological partner, which allows to transform mixed types of plastics into gas or electricity. This technology is a key element in R4W strategy to create a profitable value chain for plastic waste in order to incentivize plastic collection and stop its leakage into the environment and ultimately in water streams.  

This presentation was followed by 4 external interventions which allowed to better understand the Cuban context. Odalys C. Goicochea Cardoso, CITMA’s environmental director, then shed some light on Cuba’s environmental policies, and on the laws and standards planned for the future, to bring much-needed improvements to air and water quality. Anaelys Saunders Vázquez, electrical ingineer at Cuba Energia (CITMA), then spoke about the many projects to increase Cuba’s renewable energy supply that are in process or being studied. Dr. Julio C Rimada Herrera, a physicist at the Cátedra de Energía Solar de la Universidad de la Habana agreed, and spoke to the island’s potential for major photovoltaic installations. Last to speak was CEAC-CITMA’s Tatiana Alonso Pérez, who discussed the situation in the city of Cienfuegos. The city has a recycling center that handles plastic—PET, PE, and PA. While the current processing volumes are still too low, the initiative is still there, and in a municipality, that has two official landfills and numerous unofficial open-air dumps, most of which are near the water (similar to too many coastal cities in the world).