Plastic fantastic: KZN teen wins international recognition for her innovative environmental solution

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"The system will hopefully be used to reduce plastic pollution and decrease plastic waste". (LinkedIn/Innov8 Tech)
"The system will hopefully be used to reduce plastic pollution and decrease plastic waste". (LinkedIn/Innov8 Tech)

You might want to remember the name, Dia Singh. 

At just 16, the Grade 11 pupil from Curro's St Dominics Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal is tackling plastic pollution with her Plastic Incinerated by Plastic (PIP) system. 

As the name suggests, the innovative system burns plastic pollution, creating a fuel that in turn is used to burn more plastic pollution in a closed, and safe environment.  

"This is used to reduce plastic waste and as a means of removing single-use plastics," Singh told us. 

The teen recently received recognition for her invention at the 2022 HP Steam International Expo hosted by Innov8 Tech and HP.  

Also read: 'A weight off my shoulders': Local teen accepted to three Ivy League universities 

'It is hard for me to comprehend'

"I feel ecstatic," Singh says on winning the runner up spot at the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Expo that took place in Dubai. 

"It is hard for me to comprehend that I was able to participate in such an esteemed event. I didn't realize that when they told me I came out second, it meant second globally. I am still struggling to grasp this accomplishment," the teen says. 

The idea first struck while watching a documentary on how plastic pollution impacts our oceans and marine life, Dia says. 

"I was shocked to see the amount of plastic pollution. It is harming the animals and the environment. I watched a straw being removed from the nostril of a turtle, and this made me realize that the current methods of removing plastic waste are inefficient". 


From idea to action 

Getting the technology from idea to reality proved challenging, with the young scientist performing many experiments and trying out different engineering designs to get to the final product. 

"How to construct and test the system was the most difficult task. The design of the system was a huge task, as I needed to find a way to make a closed new system at home," she says. 

The teen says she draws a lot of inspiration from her family and especially her parents, who are both engineers. 

"In my family, there is a lot of curiosity about how things work and how things are done". 

Also see: Jetpacks to school? Kids predict the future 

Goals for the future 

As for her next step, Dia says she plans on putting more work into the PIP system to see it being used in real-life. 

"I am hoping to continue working on the PIP with HP Steam and Innov8 Tech to be able to implement the system. The system will hopefully be used to reduce plastic pollution and decrease plastic waste," she says.

Her ultimate goal is to be an innovator in science and technology. 

"This could be as a biomedical engineer or using robotics to help heal human injuries". 

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