In the race against climate change, Timor Leste is set to become the first nation to become plastic-neutral by end of 2020 after it has struck a collaboration with Australia counterparts to construct a US$40-million purpose-built recycling plant.

“This is an exciting collaboration for us. Not only will it make a big difference in plastic waste reduction and reduce harm to our cherished marine life, but Timor-Leste can be an example to the rest of the world about what this technology can achieve and the benefits it will have for the planet

Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho, Timor-Leste’s Secretary of State for the Environment


The mechanism behind this revolutionary plant is known as Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (or Cat-HTR). It works by using high pressure water at supercritical range as the change agents to breakdown hydrocarbon bonds within the plastic wastes and transform into usable plastic raw products like reactive gas, naphtha, diesel and heavy wax residue.

This feat was co-developed in Australia by Prrofessor Thomas Maschmeyer from The University of Sydney, and commercialized by Licella Holdings from the United Kingdom.

Explanation by Professor Thomas


Approximately 67 tonnes of waste plastic are washed into port daily at Timor-Leste, affecting water quality and marine life in the area. The groundbreaking Cat-HTR™ plant will be able to process about 20,000 tons of plastic waste annually. The recycled byproducts such as fuels and chemicals can provide new source of income for Timor Leste’s economy. Moreover, becoming plastic-neutral will reduce plastic consumption and pollution into the environment, resulting in a circular economy.

Plastic Feedstocks (C) Licella Holding


Timor Leste’s government has signed a agreement with Australia’s Mura Technology to establish a non profit organisation called RESPECT. The plant will be built at no cost to Asia’s youngest democracy with all profits will go towards supporting community projects and waste collectors in the country. These funds can further provide clean drinking water and resources to schools, provide low-cost energy and improve sanitation.

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