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Published November 14, 2007 08:09 AM

New Technology Turns Plastic Bags into Steel

As we all know, plastic bags don't have a lot of fans among the world's eco-activists. When you're shopping at Whole Foods, you're shamed into picking paper every time, despite the evidence that plastic isn't really any worse for the world. (Really want to be green? Go with canvas instead.)

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Now, thanks to new Australian technology, we can feel a lot better about all those plastic bags stashed in our closets: A group called Steelmaker OneSteel has just announced a plan to use plastic bag waste from Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW) as a replacement for coke and coal in making steel.

It may seem like a strange substitution, but according to UNSW scientist Veena Sahajwalla, it's a perfectly natural use for the material. "In making steel there's essentially no difference between the polyethylene plastic in shopping bags, soft packaging and some drink containers, and a natural resource like coal," he told Australia's The Age.

Once the new plastic bag-to-steel technology catches on across the world, just imagine how many skyscrapers could be built from all those Wal-Mart shopping bags out there.

 

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