16 October 2018
Chilean Researchers Create ‘SoluBag’ to #BeatPlasticPollution
Photo by Hermes Rivera
story highlights

Chilean scientists have designed a soluble bag that can dissolve in water in a few minutes.

The SoluBag has the potential of helping reduce marine plastic pollution.

10 October 2018: Researchers in Chile have created a bag that can dissolve in water. The bag has the potential to contribute to reducing marine plastic pollution.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), over 60,000 microplastic particles are contained in every square kilometer of the sea, although this figure is even higher for some parts of the world. These microplastic particles come from plastic waste that ends up in the ocean and then breaks down into smaller pieces as a result of wave erosion, bacteria and other environmental effects. Marine life may consume these microplastic particles, which then enter the global food chain.

Roberto Astete and Cristian Olivares, who designed the soluble bag, were working on experiments related to biodegradable detergents. During their experiments, they discovered that using a derivative of limestone, rather than oil byproducts, changes the structure of plastic from indestructible to soluble. This discovery led to the creation of the SoluBag.

A traditional plastic bag takes more than 150 years to degrade. The SoluBag can be disposed of in water in a few minutes.

Chile became the first country in South America to join other countries in banning the use of plastic bags as a step towards tackling plastic pollution. More than 50 countries have taken similar steps as part of the UN Clean Seas campaign. [WEF News Story] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Countries Banning Plastic Bags] [SoluBag Website]

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