WASTE TREATMENT

Spain 2020 | GREEN ECONOMY | B2B

For one of the oldest industries on earth, technological advances from firms both young and old are reshaping the waste treatment sector every day.

Carlos Monreal
CARLOS MONREAL
CEO
Plastic Energy
Carlos Bernad
CARLOS BERNAD
CEO
Envac Iberia

How has your company evolved in recent years?
CARLOS MONREAL I am an engineer by training but an entrepreneur by heart. I have been developing new technologies for more than 30 years, with more than 20 dedicated to the GPS industry and 10 to the alternative energy sector, mainly solar. In 2011, I came across technology that converts plastic waste into diesel and started researching it; that marked the beginning of Plastic Energy. Our holding company is based in Spain and owns 100% of the technology company based in London, in addition to different companies in Spain, France, the Netherlands, and soon Singapore and Indonesia too. When it came to developing our TACOIL technology, which converts plastic waste into alternative feedstock for the production of virgin type plastics, I initially started as an investor, selecting and researching companies working on alternative technologies. I then contracted one of the companies as a supplier and started to invest into TACOIL technology. We then built one of our first industrial plants and gradually started to build our equity position within the technology supplier; we now have three years of operational experience with our robust technology, producing a stable high-quality feedstock.

CARLOS BERNAD The commercial activities started at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s to promote the product, which at that time was advanced technology. The first contract the company got was to install a pneumatic system for handling waste at the Olympic Village at Barcelona '92. An important milestone was to install a pneumatic system at Expo '98 in Lisbon. Those two projects were a platform that the company used to launch its activities, mainly in Spain. Between 1992 and 2000, we only got another three or four projects: one in Sabadell, one in Cartagena, and several others in Barcelona. The real expansion of the company happened between 2000 and 2008 when we got projects in most of the important cities in Spain, including Seville, Zaragoza, Bilbao, and Valencia, to install our product. In 2008, when the financial crisis hit here in Spain, our business sustained quite well until 2012 since our projects were big investments and our commercial activities are focused on the medium to longterm. Today, we have more than 70 systems running in our region and are serving more than a million dwellings with our technology.

Are you diversifying your product portfolio?
CM At present, the industry is undergoing a huge change in which more than 20% of the feedstock from the petrochemical sector is shifting from the fossil oil base to the renewable feedstock base. That means chemical companies are going to have to diversify their feedstock in order to deliver recyclable plastic content to their customers. This means there is potential for the market to become a USD160-billion market within the next 10 years. We are a small company but also have our own R&D department in London. We invest EUR3-4 million annually in developing the technology. We have a proven technology being used in two industrial plants which are operating 24/7 and converting waste plastics into naphtha, which can be used as feedstock for the production of new plastics. Notably, we are working on a new technology that will be even more efficient in terms of energy.

CB Hospitals are an important sector for the group. Our technology was developed in a Stockholm hospital in 1961 and is still running today. We have four hospitals here in Spain; two in Barcelona, one in Cartagena, and one in Murcia, but this is a trend of our portfolio, which is becoming more and more important. In the hospitals we improve two main activities. One is logistics in the hospitals as no waste comes through the elevators or aisles, and second is hygiene. We have our technology in hospitals in Oslo, Dubai, and Qatar, but 75% of our sales still come from residential areas and mixed-use projects.