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Technology: melt in the sun plastic.

The problem with a plastic shopping bag is that it never actually goes away. Plastic is forever, and that's an ecological nightmare. Now Pretoria University and a Johannesburg company put some light on the issue--sunlight, in fact. They have developed technology that makes plastic dissolve when it is exposed to sunlight.

Evergreen Environmental's MD, Felix de Kleijn, says the secret ingredient is an additive that causes plastic to degrade into water and carbon dioxide after about two weeks' exposure to sunlight and oxygen.

Says Dr Walter Focke, director of the Institute of Applied Materials at the university, the photodegradable bags "are a breakthrough when compared to ordinary plastic ones." Evergreen is the technology's licence holder while the university will receive royalties when the process is commercialised.

Environmental agencies have also given the technology the thumbs-up. "I think the plastics are fantastic," reports Ian Dunstan of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, after putting the material through a three-month trial.
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Title Annotation:Products & Processes
Publication:African Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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