Tale of a global plastic waste warrior
Published on: Sunday, January 10, 2021
By: Kan Yaw Chong
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Camille bought souvenir buttons made from recycled plastic at Reef Check recycling centre, Pulau Mantanani.
YES, plastic waste is a global scourge, a silent killer of oceans set to outnumber fish by 2050!

But in late August 2019, an unusual Geneva-hailed Swiss lady Camille Rollin who came to Kota Kinabalu aboard Race for Water’s all renewable energy power 80-tonne boat on a round-the-world voyage.

While here, she kept telling locals yes, true, plastic waste is very destructive once out at sea but on the other hand, because it is derived from petroleum, it has high calorific value which can be transformed into energy-rich synthesised gas (syngas) to produce electricity.

I had the chance to hear her speak many times and also interviewed her at length.

The most cheer-some surprise was to hear her expound an advanced leading edge pyrolysis technology which enables plastic litter to be heated up at 800 degrees Celsius in anaerobic (oxygen-free) chamber to produce syngas and clean electricity without any greenhouse gas emissions!     

Wow, a very attractive triple true environmental, economic and social solution to the killer plastic menace, if indeed it works out.

Before I could get around to write a report on her interview, I bumped into an article she had written in February 2020, complete with an introduction of Camille. 

I decided this is probably even better for publication in the Daily Express (Kan Yaw Chong)       

Who is Camille Rollin?

January 23, 1983
– Born 

1991 – put in first tacks in sailing

April 22, 2012 – First underwater dive, discovery of a new planet undersea

2015- 2016 – Round the world 

March 2016 – Signed up to the Race for Water Foundation.    

Position: ACT programme Director – Race for Water Team

What you first notice about Camille is her radiant smile. 

Sparkling, this adopted Genevan boasts an infinite amount of motivation and unfailing determination for the conservation of the oceans and the environment. 

Educated at the renowned French Business school, EDHEC, she has always had a deep-seated appreciation for the marine universe and for sailing. 

“During my studies, I was President of the Course Croisiere EHDEC, the largest racer-cruiser event for students in Europe.”

Switching tack (role on a sail boat) to the banking sector, where she worked for eight years, Camille gradually felt the need for change in environment. 

“I wanted to turn my focus to my deep-held beliefs, hook back up to nature and explore the world, so I went travelling for a year. 

Back in Switzerland, the lady had one goal: to work on preserving the oceans. Today, in charge of the Race for Water Foundation’s ACT Program (implementation of solutions) Camille is present at the stopovers, meet the local protagonists and raises awareness amongst anyone ready to listen. 

“We are in contact with the situation where the plastic pollution is so catastrophic that my natural optimism takes a knock sometimes. 

“However I meet so many motivated characters with a desire to take action for the future that my hope is restored.” 

A young passionate woman spurred on by a good cause is necessary cocktail in the bid to move mountains for the conservation of the mountains.

Beyond raising awareness, race for Water Foundation has also come up with a solution.     

By Camille Rollin:

With most plastic waste fragmented into tiny particles, a large-scale clean-up of the oceans is unrealistic; but land-based solutions can effectively combat this 21st century scourge.

Partnering with ETIA, the technology biogreen converts plastic into an energy-rich syngas to produce electricity and commercial gases while discharging waste at only 10pc of incoming volume. 

One machine can process 5-12 tonnes of plastic waste per day, producing up to 2.5 MWh/tonne of electricity.

Pilot projects already set up in Peru, Dominican Republic, Easter Island and more.

Following the First Race for Water Odyssey, an expedition launched by Race for Water Foundation in 2015 to make the first global assessment of the plastic pollution of our oceans, the findings are conclusive: plastic pollution is everywhere. 

There is no seventh continent, nor is there a plastic island, rather there is a soup of plastic waste that drift at the mercy of oceanic gyres.

Only a small proportion remains visible to the surface of the water. The bulk of it has sunk or fragmented into infinitesimally small particles.

A large scale clean-up of the oceans in simply unrealistic then.

Solely land-based solutions can effectively combat this 21st century scourge. 


Costly and weak recycling model makes virgin plastic more attractive

Firstly, by encouraging everyone to reduce plastic waste and by pushing for more recycling.

Also, by proposing new waste management models with sustainable economic, social and environmental impacts. 

The fragility of the current recycling model hinders its development. 

Only 15pc to 20pc of plastic waste is currently collected for recycling. 

More than half cannot be recycled for health, safety, quality and contamination reasons. 

In addition, the prohibitive cost of recycling favours the use of virgin plastic.

High temperature tech: A realistic solution 

Race for Water Plan: To encourage collection and convert plastic waste into a marketable energy resources.

In anticipation of the Circular Plastic Economy that is sustainable environmentally friendly, Race for Water presents a realistic solution that, deployed on a large scale, can put an end to most of the contamination of the oceans from plastic waste.

We offer high temperature pyrolysis technology to transform non-sorted plastic waste into electricity. 

These units installed in containers can be deployed close to inhabited areas and allow even isolated communities, such as small cities or islands, to independently manage their waste and their energy production.

The income generated by the sale of electricity provides a source of remuneration to pay street collectors or to reduce waste management costs. 

The value generated directly benefits local communities, be it on economic, social or environmental level. 

Designed to break apart non-sorted plastic waste to syngas

After two years of research, we partnered with the French Company Biogreen, for non-sorted plastic waste.

Biogreen R is an innovative, patented process for continuous thermochemical conversion of biomass and waste residue that allows torrefaction of biomass (a mild form of pyrolysis typically between 200C to 320C, torrefaction changes biomass property to provide better fuel quality for combustion and gasification), pyrolysis and high temperature pyrolysis treatment of various bulk materials.       

This leading edge technology can recover the high calorific value of plastic litter and convert it into an energy-rich synthesised gas (syngas) applicable for the production of electricity, methane and hydrogen. 

Hydrocarbons composing plastic waste naturally break apart when exposed to heat. 

High temperature pyrolysis in the absence of oxygen induces this breakdown that creates new products: gases, liquids and solids.

Interesting process

The process is based on an electrically heated screw conveyor: the spiraljoule. 

Designed for advanced thermal treatment in high temperature pyrolysis conditions (up to 800C), this technology allows perfect control of temperature and speed to maximise plastic conversion into syngas.

Ultimate waste is minimised with a target of maximum 10pc of incoming volume.

Thus, generated syngas goes through a refining process composed of different steps of filtration, scrubbing and condensation. 

This crucial refining step aims at eliminating dust, fine particles, tar condensable gases and other pollutants such as chlorine.

The refined syngas can then be used as a fuel to internal combustion engine to provide electricity or simply heat. 

Ultimate waste is minimised with a target of maximum 10pc of incoming volumes.

Compact and easy to integrate into contaminated local scene

Compact and modular, the equipment can be containerised and set up in as little as few weeks which makes it easy to integrate locally in highly contaminated areas and close to population limiting transport and logistic issues.

One machine can or process between five to 12 tonnes of plastic waste per day, which is adapted to a population of 50,000 to 200,000 inhabitants and produce up to 2.5MWh/tonnes.

Depending on the context one machine is enough to supply electricity close to 6,000 families.

A plastic waste to energy site can be set with several Biogreen working in parallel allowing the treatment of higher capacities.

Biogreen meets the strictest environmental standards and is CE certified (EU or European Conformity). 

These small and medium capacities solutions favour the decentralised waste management and energy production which are recognised for their efficiency, as well as their social and environmental benefits.

This innovative technological approach also demonstrate that remote plastic waste can be an additional resources in energy transition management.

Pilot project towards scalability. 

The first industrial machine is now operating on a French showroom site close to Paris to showcase it energetic performance and assess its environmental footprint. 

At the same time, a series of “Proof of Concept” projects are under study in Peru, Dominican Republic, Easter Island and New Caledonia, to showcase the pertinence of the business model, the social benefits and the positive environmental impact of the plastic waste to energy value chain for places that are strategic for our oceans, islands, rivers and coastal cities.    


Camille is stunned by this mountain of plastic waste collected by Mantanani Recycling Centre.

Camille showing plastic bits picked up from Christmas Island to local reporters. 

Camille (circled) in Pulau Gaya to see the horrific plastic pollution. 

Camille raised awareness on plastic pollution to primary school pupils on Gaya Island.  

Race for Water Foundation’s solar, wind and hydrogen-powered boat arrived at Sutera Marina, Kota Kinabalu on 19 August 2019. 

Biogreen’s high temperature pyrolysis machine converts unsorted plastic litter into syngas and electricity efficiently. 

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