Banana waste made into mats and hair extensions

An African company has found an innovative way to turn deadly banana waste into profit. This, while helping to mitigate the devastating impact on the environment, including the excessive emission of greenhouse gases.

In the past, many people around the world thought that there was not much to do with waste. That’s why no less than 114 million tonnes of banana waste ended up in landfills, according to a Swiss research report.

Today, Ugandan farmers have found creative ways to not only recycle banana waste, but also turn it into high-quality textiles, carpets, and yes, even durable ones. Hair extensions.

After harvesting, the trunk-like banana stem called the pseudo-stem is usually discarded because it no longer regrows. This is considered a wasteful form of agriculture compared to other fruit crops because only 12% of the plant is used.

Turning waste into textiles

TaxFad, a Ugandan producer of handwoven textiles, has taken to extracting fiber from the trunk of bananas, creating jobs that are helping to feed many families in the east-central African country. The company produces handmade textiles and provides opportunities for non-formal vocational training programs targeting youth and women.

TexFad’s headquarters are on the outskirts of Kampala, where every waste banana is turned into strong fiber that can be woven into various products like carpets, textiles and hand-spun yarn.

The company transforms pseudo-banana stems and other waste into high-quality, sustainable textile products.

According to the company’s website, Uganda is one of the largest banana producers in the world and a world leader in banana consumption.

TexFad founder Kimani Muturi says the company is testing several uses for banana fiber. “The hair extensions we manufacture are highly biodegradable. After use, our ladies will bury them in the ground, and they will become manure for their vegetables.

How the magic happens

Now, how do Muturi and his company turn the trunk of the banana tree into fiber?

According to an article on High Tech Prod, workers cut the stems into thin pieces and let them dry in the sun, then they feed these ropes into an extractor.

“It’s an integral step and the only part of the process that requires machinery, and it’s not cheap. The extracted fibers are again dried until they look like silky thread but as strong as rope; at this point it is also ideal for dying. The ultimate stop is the weaving shed, where homeware and handicraft manufacturing begins,” the article reads.

Turns out TexFad isn’t the only company turning banana waste into eco-friendly products. Australian researchers have developed a method that turns agricultural banana waste into a non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable bioplastic packaging material.

A Brazilian university student, Rafaella de Bona Gonçalves, developed biodegradable banana fiber tampons for homeless women in 2019.

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David R. Brewer