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The Heap

The Checkered Bag

No part of the waste stream right now is riling up politicians and citizens more than plastic bags. Lab chemists may have an answer.

Scientists at the Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory have learned how to turn plastic in carbon fibers in a wide range of sizes and shapes, according to the NewScientist website. The polyethylene is mixed with a compound derived from cornstarch or sugar cane called polyactic acid, then heated and spun into bundles.

The lab said the fibers can be made into water filters and lightweight composite materials for car bodies.

So now, will the grocery checkout question become, “paper or Indy car material?”


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