Dung Beetle stage being carried on a trailer.

In just a year the Dung Beetle Project has gone from a dream to a shining reality.

It has been a fantastic year for the Dung Beetle Project. The project is a creative way to use energy from plastic to drive science and environmental education, based on a plastic distillation process. We started this year with a $4000 grant from Burning Man’s biggest African event, called Afrika Burn. We also used some of our 2017 donations into the Alliance Earth coffers that came from both Hallie Rugheimer and longtime supporter The Neel Foundation, as well as our fabulous beetle team.

The Dung Beetle Project is one of many educational efforts.

Over the year we received a massive amount of machine work, equipment, knowledge and other assistance from Gov Scrap Metals, SAME Water, Allsteam Engineering, Erich Nash’s Otmar Machine Tools, and in particular his brother Werner Nash in Alrode, Johannesburg.  Thanks, everyone we really could not have done anything without you.

A year ago we had a big dream and four dedicated people who decided we would try our best to develop this latent technology and unleash it upon the world’s plastic problem.  For anyone unsure about our technology, we turn waste plastic into both liquid fuels and electrical energy.  We finished our trailer-installed art and plastic converter in April, and we debuted our sculpture clad system at the Afrika Burn festival in South Africa’s Karoo Desert.  By then we had grown into a core team of five with more than thirty volunteers.

Our sixth generation system was born in July, and we re-tooled a heavy-duty trailer in Mike Jervis’ shop south of Johannesburg in order to travel across the region with our machine, which looks creatively crafted like its poo-rolling namesake. Jervis’ shop continues to be our headquarters. Our staff come from the nearby township of Thokoza, and we have already trained four formerly jobless artisans how to manufacture and assemble our systems. We have plans to train many more.

The Dung Beetle stage on the road again.

Our core team consists of Jeffrey Barbee, Pierre Pretorius, Michael Jervis, David Terblanche, and Simon Davis, and includes Ana Alecia Lyman and Steve Blair.  We are hoping to bring on more team members soon as we rapidly expand our project over the next year.

We are also exploring possible partnerships with a number of different entities such as Durban Solid Waste, The City of Durban, The University of KwaZulu Natal, The Stellenbosch Sustainability Institute, ParCo (Mozambique), The Johannesburg Inner City Rejuvenation Project, IUCN, Oxford University, The Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade and other public and private organizations around the world.

It became clear around June that we would have to create an offshoot of the Dung Beetle Project in order to be able to continue to innovate our original hardware designs into systems that people can buy. The Dung Beetle Project is based in Alliance Earth, a not for profit foundation which derives its status through an educational remit.  As such it will continue to drive forward its global outreach, and keep sharing this exciting technology with the world through road-shows highlighting all sorts of environmentally sustainable solutions to current challenges.

ScarabTech is our first offshoot. This international company will have machines available for sale in 2019, and will also be expanding into the USA in Colorado, Mozambique and globally to drive sales of full systems, kits, and support.

We are currently finalizing the downloadable open-source plans for our basic plastic to power machine so that the wider public can benefit from the usefulness of our technology.  The plans will be free to inventors through our website  Everyone can download them, but all development from anyone who downloads the plans will be shared, so that globally people innovate together and learn from one another helping to scale this technology as fast as possible in order to get as much plastic out of our environment as possible.

Commercial companies will have to license our creative commons technology or pay royalty fees to ScarabTech. It will manage the business of making plastic-to-energy accessible but also profitable enough to pay for jobs created, great talent engaged, and further research and development so that our small scale systems can have a real global impact.

The last weekend in October The Dung Beetle Project came to Durban’s Umgeni River mouth.  The river is one of the biggest suppliers of plastic polluting the West Indian Ocean. Stopping plastic from entering the ocean is one of our most important goals, so it was great to have our first public event in such a prominent place. We partnered with ZigZag Surf Magazine, as well as Tuffy, The City of Durban, The Green Hub and the University of KwaZulu Natal to do a beach cleanup. We also had talks and green entertainment powered by plastic from the beach using our Dung Beetle.

The Dung Beetle stage flaring out fire from it's recyclable fuel.

So in only one year, the Dung Beetle Project has gone from a dream to an art project, to a fully operating system that is cleaning up our global plastic problem and using that energy to drive change.  Go beetles!

We are looking for more support to drive forward our message that many people’s needs can be powered by plastic. We can accept direct contributions to Alliance Earth here and if you want to donate directly to our fundraiser for the educational road shows, you can find that link here.

At some point in the future, ScarabTech will be looking for investors, and we will keep you all informed here when that time comes.  You are included in this newsletter because you sent us a note and asked to be.  It is you all that have supported and lifted us up over the last year and we really appreciate the input and outpouring of positive comments and kind words.

People gather recyclable resources for the Dung Beetle Project.