SA research on mitigating plastic pollution showcased at Tunisia Science Festival

South African research that seeks to mitigate plastic pollution, reducing the threat it poses to plants, animals, and the environment, will be showcased at the International Festival of Engineering Science and Technology in Tunisia (I-FEST2).

Joseph Gibbon and Matthew Redfern, Grade 12 learners at Pinelands High School in the Western Cape won an opportunity to participate in the I-FEST2 after impressing judges at the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) which took place in December 2022, where they bagged a gold medal for their research, along with the top senior category award in the Chemistry and Biochemistry category. The duo also won an opportunity to participate in a one-week boot camp and access to Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) funding valued up to R260,000 for their project.

With their research project, “Comparing and evaluating different types of bioplastic polymers – an investigation into bioplastics”, the duo made their own bioplastics (starch-based, gelatine-based, and fish-scale-based bioplastics). They tested the plastic’s tensile strength, biodegradability, solubility, flammability, and thermal properties.

These tests were then compared with the results of the petroleum-based polypropylene that was used as the control plastic. They did this to determine which bioplastic would have the potential to replace the traditional petroleum-based plastics that are used to make certain types of single-use plastic products. Gibbon and Redfern showed great understanding and zeal for this topic and will represent South Africa well at I-FEST2.

Nthato Minyuku, Eskom Group Executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, said: “We at Eskom want to extend our warmest wishes to the two young scientists who will be presenting their innovative research project. Their dedication and hard work in exploring solutions to environmental problems like plastic pollution are commendable. While the research project offers a significant contribution to addressing the issue by comparing and evaluating the efficacy of various bioplastic polymers, the research is timely and vital, and it inspires us to continue our quest for sustainable solutions to better our country.”

Eskom Development Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sumaya Nassiep, said: “The standard of research by our young scientists has been nothing short of impressive, and it deserves commendation. The dedication and excellence of this dynamic duo inspire us all, and their work provides a strong foundation for future innovations. However, there is always room for more participation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and innovation (STEMI) fields, especially among young people. We encourage more youngsters to pursue STEMI careers, as these fields offer incredible opportunities to shape the future and solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. With the support, guidance, and resources offered by Eskom Expo, we can nurture the next generation of South African scientists who will undoubtedly contribute to the global scientific community’s advancement”.

The I-FEST2 will be held in Mahdia, Tunisia from 16 to 22 March 2023, and is organised by the Tunisian Association for the future of Science and Technology. The programme aims to be an experience as unique, educational and fun as possible, including various activities and many new discoveries and will include various trips and excursions to discover the rich Tunisian culture.

Registration to take part in Eskom Expo is open. Learners in grades 4 to 12, along with learners from TVET colleges that are in NC2 to NC4 can register their projects by clicking here.

There are 2 comments
  1. […] research by Joseph Gibbon and Matthew Redfern, Grade 12 learners at Pinelands High School, “Comparing and evaluating different types of […]

  2. wow that was a nice motivation for someone who recently joined eskom expo.I have also joined eskom exop it’s really hard for me to handle all the situation, but after getting all the motivation from joseph and matthew ,I believe that truly I can still do it.

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