(Ecofin Agency) – The environmental threat posed by plastic hangs over African countries. In South Africa, Tshepo Mangoele believes he has the solution to this scourge with Dissolv Bioplastic, a biodegradable plastic made from plant waste.

Dissolv Bioplastic is an ecological plastic made from the remains of plant materials, which degrades at high speed. It is designed to dissolve in water within 36-72 hours, depending on the raw material used. The other particularity of this material is that it can decompose without becoming toxic like synthetic packaging.

Tshepo Mangoele, chemical engineer, is the designer. He developed it after 2 years of experimentation with biomass waste to make different products.

”  We are also considering selling the bioplastic pellets to companies using conventional plastics, which will allow us to expand our product line,  ” he told the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Globally, about 50% of single-use plastics end up in the oceans. South Africa in particular and African countries in general are also affected by the environmental threat, especially as recycling is done on a small scale. According to data provided by Tshepo, the biodegradation process of currently available environmentally friendly plastics can take between 3 and 6 months, while Dissolv Bioplastic degrades in around 61 days. It therefore not only reduces plastic pollution, but also limits the risk that marine animals accidentally ingest toxic elements.

While Dissolv Bioplastic is an innovative solution in Africa, soluble plastics have been in the crosshairs of non-African engineers and entrepreneurs for several years. In Chile, the company SoluBag had already unveiled in 2018 a plastic that uses limestone instead of petroleum, and which dissolves in water without polluting in 5 minutes maximum.

Pilot projects for the production of cutlery, films and straws are being launched this year at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, where Dissolv Bioplastic is under development. Although it is in the pilot phase, the project has just won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, which will allow Tshepo Mangoele to reach customers in the electronics, cosmetics and medical devices industries.