Scientists are hard at work in a new R37m research laboratory in Durban, expecting to turn tonnes of chicken feathers into anything from shampoo to shirts, socks and reinforcement fibres for rockets. And it is not just chicken feathers they are trying to turn into money but a range of unwanted "waste" products discarded every year by major South African industries. "We are throwing away millions of rand every day. It is such a waste and a highly irresponsible use of our natural resources," says Prof Bruce Sithole, chief scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research biorefinery in Durban. Speaking at the launch of the new biorefinery research facility this week, Sithole noted that less than 50% of each tree processed by the pulp and paper industry was turned into a commercial product. The remainder (bark, sawdust, sludge or fly ash) was either burned, dumped into landfills or pumped into the sea. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the new science and technology minister, sai...

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