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January 10th, 2009
They are convenient, water resistant and cheap. These qualities make plastic bags second to none as the packaging of choice for most products.
However, they have huge disadvantages especially in how friendly they are to the environment.
They are made from non-renewable sources - oil and gas - and they are not biodegradable, as it takes them between 500 and 1,000 years to decompose in natural conditions.
Scientists, therefore, have long been trying to create biodegradable plastic (or bioplastic) as a solution.
As part of the country's efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags, some local companies have imported technologies producing bioplastic from other countries like the US and Canada for hundreds of thousand dollars.
Recently, research scientists from the Ho Chi Minh City-based University of Sciences have developed a material to make biodegradable plastic bags (or bioplastic bags) with several advantages over the imported ones.
According to the result of a project initiated four years ago, the material not only can degrade fully in land within a short time but also make the cost of bags produced with it much cheaper, says Truong Phuoc Nghia, the group's leader.
He says the material, known as nanocomposite, is a mix of thermoplastic starch (made from starch), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a kind of polymer clay, and some food additives, adding that it is made with nanotechnology.
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