Earth Day 2024

2024 – Written by: Taylor Scragg, Technical Project Assistant (Co-op student)

Plastic was an innovation of the 1950s¹ that was praised for its remarkable versatility but has become one of the world’s most prominent pollutants. Since its creation, 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic have been produced worldwide². To put this into perspective, all humans on Earth are estimated to weigh a total of 390 million metric tonnes, or less than 5% of the staggering mass of plastics that have been created³. 79% of this plastic, approximately 6.6 billion metric tonnes, sits in landfills or the natural environment with only 21% having been incinerated or recycled². This is why the theme for Earth Day 2024 is “Planet vs Plastics”. In this battle between our planet and plastics we must embrace sustainable practices and innovative solutions to preserve the beauty and biodiversity of our planet.

At Lystek® we strive to contribute to this effort by ensuring all stages of our process do not increase the quantity of plastics entering the natural environment. This philosophy is exemplified by the operational strategies behind our Lystek THP® technology. These strategies include:

  • Receiving bulk shipments of biosolids in tanker trucks from a variety of sources including municipalities, utilities, and private sector clients.
  • Storing this material to then be, dewatered, or directly pumped into the Lystek Reactor where steam, shear, and alkali are applied to produce a concentrated homogeneous product.
  • Pumping the finished, high solids liquid product, LysteGro®, into bulk storage to be distributed based on land application seasonality in the area.

The patented Lystek THP system is simple and offers lower chemical addition requirements than traditional nitrogen fertilizers. Most notably, the process does not use single use plastics! The production of conventional mineral fertilizer requires the addition of multiple chemicals to deliver the nutrient requirements that Lystek THP obtains from biosolids. The chemicals used in conventional fertilizers are typically transported and stored using bags lined with plastic. Furthermore, a large portion of traditional chemical fertilizer is sold in single use plastic bags. Because of this, there is a considerable amount of single use plastics consumed in the conventional fertilizer industry for chemical transportation and end product storage.

Lystek has developed a solution that does not require any of this plastic usage. By using biosolids as a multi-nutrient resource Lystek can circumvent these requirements. Biosolids contain most of the nutrients required for effective crop growth, with KOH being the only chemical additive required to transform biosolids into Class A fertilizer. Because LysteGro is a high solids liquid, it is pumped from storage to a delivery vehicle where it is directly land applied with no intermediary plastic required. Lystek technology also offers flexibility to use the hydrolyzed feedstock as a supplemental carbon source for BNR (LysteCarb®) or as a feedstock for enhanced anaerobic digestion (LysteMize®) – making sizeable contributions to lowering local environmental impacts through beneficial reuse of materials that are already onsite and do not require additional packaging.

Earth Day 2024 is a great time to reflect on plastic usage and consider the long-term impacts to the environment. Most plastic objects used in daily life can be replaced by reusable or plastic free alternatives that are far better for the environment throughout their entire life cycle. In the case of fertilizer, this alternative is LysteGro.

Happy Earth Day from Lystek!

  1. The Age of Plastic: From Parkesine to pollution | Science Museum
  2. Fact Sheet: Single Use Plastics – Earth Day
  3. All of Humanity Weighs Six Times as Much as All Wild Mammals | Scientific American