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Household Waste and Sewage to be Used in Jet Fuel for the First Time

2 min

c. Ashok Boghani. Flickr
After the Department for Transport announced eight companies have been shortlisted to receive a share of £15 million to develop production plants in the UK that will turn waste into jet fuel, Quadrant Transport takes a closer look at the project. 

These production plants are set to be built across the UK, including Tees Valley, Ellesmere Port and Lincolnshire. This has the potential to create over 1,000 green jobs in the UK. 

This news is welcomed by the sustainability sector, as the impact of aviation on the environment has been heavily documented. As it currently stands, 2.5% of global carbon dioxide comes from aviation, so these plans go a long way to tackle this issue. 

Do these plans go far enough?

The Government has also set more long term sustainability ambitions. There are now proposals for up to 10% SAF by 2030 and up to 75% by 2050. This could generate savings of up to 23 megatons of CO2 per year by 2050, which is the equivalent of 500,000 return flights to Tenerife.

Announced as part of the Ten Point Plan, the Green Fuels Green Skies (GFGS) competition will support the pioneering new technologies, converting materials such as household waste, alcohol, carbon from the atmosphere and sewage into jet fuel at commercial scales. 

This will offer savings of more than 70% compared to the use of conventional fossil fuels. 

Shortlisted proposals include plants aiming to produce jet fuel from: 

  • Carbon Dioxide captured from the atmosphere with hydrogen from water
  • Alcohol derived from wastes including flue gases from industry
  • Everyday household waste and commercial black bag garbage
Grant Schapps hopeful for the future of aviation 

Transport Secretary, Grant Schapps, told Quadrant Group: “Aviation will be central to our future growth and plans to build back greener from the pandemic, which is why we have invested over £20 million in the past year to decarbonise the sector in line with our net-zero targets.”

SAF production in the UK could generate between £700m and £1,660m annually and create 11,000 green jobs by 2040. 

While much more is needed to meet 2050 targets, this new scheme tackles two core issues. The growing waste culture in the UK and the global impact of aviation.