An article by Trisha Sertori, The Jakarta Post.

In Bali, where fuel is heavily subsidized (at the risk of crippling the national budget), an elderly man cooks his rice with fuel harvested from plastic.

The cacophony of Denpasar’s traffic fades as you enter Pekambingan village, home of a self-taught inventor, Ida Bagus Ketut Atmaja.

Shade trees line the paved alley, roosters scratch inside bamboo cages and children and adults rest in the cool lent by leafy boughs overhead.

The plastic waste besieging many Balinese villages has been vanquished here. The village is clean — although its river remains choked with rubbish.

“Success to me is that we get on top of the plastic problem, that my grandchildren can play in the river as we old folk did when we were children,” says Ketut of his motivation to build an safe incinerator for plastic waste. He says he never set out to make fuel — it was a byproduct that may prove to be an unexpected reward for communities cleaning up plastic waste.

Expected hikes in gasoline prices following reduced government subsidies would make that reward even greater.

“The idea was how to deal with plastic waste — how to clean up the rivers and streets. Early information was that people were burning plastic and releasing poisonous gasses, so we tried to heat plastic waste in a different way, without open fires,” says Ketut.

The oxygen-free furnace he has been working on uses a neutral atmospheric gas to prompt combustion, allowing plastic to be burned without releasing toxic fumes.

“We saw that smoke from the plastic liquefied within the furnace and found that it could be used as a fuel, so we were keen to find a way to harvest this fuel from the waste,” says Ketut.

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