Daily Dispatch

CSIR’s biodegrada­ble plastic bags set for trial run


SOUTH Africans will soon be able to dispose of their plastic bags along with the rest of their waste without having to worry about any possible negative effects on the environmen­t.

A team of local scientists from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) polymer and composite research group in Port Elizabeth broke new ground when they recently developed 100% biodegrada­ble plastic bags made from agricultur­al by-products.

The maize and sugar cane bio-based bags are completely biodegrada­ble in mud‚ soil‚ water and compost and break down completely in just three to six months. So advanced is the technology that the bags can also be recycled and major retailers such as Woolworths and Pick n Pay are already in line to test the product in a pilot phase.

On Monday, CSIR senior researcher Sudhakar Muniyasamy‚ who led the team that made the discovery‚ said the new bags had the same durability as normal plastic bags but with many more advantag

“These biodegrada­ble plastic bags can improve market opportunit­ies and end-user industry and reduce the amount of plastic waste in SA‚” Muniyasamy said.

“The technology is mainly designed to meet physical-chemical properties but after their use when disposed in natural environmen­ts, it undergoes biodegrada­tion in landfill‚ compost and marine water by process of natural micro-organisms in a timely and efficient manner.”

In SA about 90% of current convention­al plastics bags are made from petroleum-based chemical materials and are not biodegrada­ble in natural environmen­ts.

Muniyasamy said the new bags currently cost two to three times more to manufactur­e than normal bags‚ but that costs would come down once they began to upscale production. — BDLive

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