USM RESEARCHERS CREATE DURABLE, DEGRADABLE PLASTIC
PENANG, 24 June –The innovation of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) researchers in green technology might just be the answer to the global environmental problem arising from the use of non-degradable plastics.
Enviroplast or more commonly known as green plastic, created by Professor Hanafi Ismail is an alternative to the petroleum-based plastic that is currently in use and which is seen as creating numerous environmental problems.
He said that among the major problems associated with the use of petroleum-based plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene are that they are not degradable and are harmful to the environment.
“The destruction of the environment can be related to the use of non-degradable plastics as well as the phenomenon of the haze,” he explained in a press conference in USM today.
As such, enviroplast has the potential to overcome these problems with the use of local expertise. Furthermore, the product is very much cheaper compared to the product that is currently available in the market.
Plastics are a necessity in our lives, but the cause of the problem is that the materials that are available in the market today are environmentally unfriendly.
“Thus, the green plastic is an alternative solution that can help to protect the environment as it is not only durable, but also degradable,” he said at the press conference here today.
Prof. Hanafi added that the element of durability was taken into consideration in the production of the green plastic to enable consumers to reuse the plastic and at the same time, degrade easily if discarded.
“Degradable plastics are already available in the market but generally they are expensive and are not durable. The cost of producing the plastic is 10 percent higher than that of producing the green plastic,” explained Prof. Hanafi, who is a lecturer with the School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, USM.
Funded by a USM research grant, the study took five years and Prof. Hanafi was assisted by co-researcher, Sam Sung Ting.
Prof. Hanafi added that green plastic uses additional chemical compounds such as DegraCHEM (a USM invention), natural polymers and synthetic chemicals that enable the plastic to degrade easily.
“The plastic is also special because it can be recycled and degrades easily within six months compared to petroleum-based plastics which take 100 years to degrade,” he said.
Prof. Hanafi said that the use of plastics that have a long shelf-life help in creating awareness as to the importance of recycling.
Picture: Prof. Hanafi with co-researcher, Sam Sung Ting showing their innovation, that is, iaitu EnviroPLAST - A Green and Degradable Plastic in USM today.
Photo: Mohd. Fairus Md