New innovations: South African

New innovations: South Africans will soon be able to shop with 100% biodegradable shopping bags

A group of scientists from Port Elizabeth recently developed a ground-breaking product that could eradicate the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags.

New innovations: South African

Pretty soon South Africans will be able to dispose of plastic bags along with other waste with a clear, guilt-free conscience.

Even though plastic bags may seem convenient, they have proven to be a huge source of pollution. It is said that in South Africa, about 90% of shopping bags are actually not biodegradable, but thanks to new innovations from scientists in PE, that’s hopefully about to change.

New 100% biodegradable plastic bags were recently developed by the great minds of a team of scientists from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Polymer and Composite Research Group in Port Elizabeth.

They developed biodegradable plastic bags that are made from agricultural by-products so that people don’t have to worry about negatively affecting the environment.

The biodegradable plastic bags are supposedly made up from maize and sugar cane. The group of scientists believe that the bags will be completely biodegradable in mud‚ soil‚ water and compost and that the process will take between three and six months to break down.

It is also reported that retailers such as Woolworths and Pick n Pay are already in line to test the product.

Good Things Guy reported that these bags can really up the game in South Africa.

According to Dr. Sudhakar Muniyasamy, a senior researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at Council For Scientific and Industrial Research, these biodegradable plastic bags can improve market opportunities and end-user industry and reduce the amount of plastic waste in South Africa.

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

The bags currently cost about two to three times more to manufacture than normal bags‚ but costs would apparently come down once they began to up scale production.

“We hope that by September we will be able to give them some pilot samples to try out and we expect to be in the commercial stage by early next year,” Muniyasamy said.

Jacques Lightfoot, Sustainability Manager at Plastics SA believe that the new bags would be good for the environment, but he did raise his concern over its effect on existing jobs in the industry.

“This bag would have a lot of solutions to what we are facing right now and has its place as long as it doesn’t destroy our recycling sector. We have 1 800 convertors in the industry making plastic products with around about 50 000 employees‚ and 231 recyclers with close to 5 000 employees.

“The problem for us is that the normal bags are also being recycled so if the new bags are not marked correctly they will contaminate normal bags if they are stored together. We hope it doesn’t affect our recycling industry.”

You can also listen to Muniyasamy in conversation with 702 host, Azania Mosaka about this ground-breaking development, over here: