Finance and Business

How Banana Waste Is Turned Into Rugs, Fabric, And Hair Extensions | World Wide Waste

bananas are one of the world’s most wasteful crops and these giant stems are a part of the problem farmers typically burn them but that pollutes the air so instead one company in uganda has figured out how to pulverize them into fiber to make rugs placemats even hair extensions so could bananas become a green alternative to cotton or silk we visited the headquarters of texfad in the outskirts of kampala to find out every banana stem only fruits once in its lifetime before it rots or catches a virus and for every ton of fruit plantations produce two tons of debris but in those mounds of refuse kimani maturi saw potential he founded texfad in 2013 after discovering his love for hand weaving in college i cannot finish using the waste that is out there it’s too much first workers cut the stems into celery shaped chunks and leave them out to dry in the sun then they feed those strands into an extractor like this one this is a crucial step and the only part of the process that requires machinery and it’s not cheap this unit costs anywhere from one thousand dollars for a used one to ten thousand dollars brand new that price presents an obstacle for expanding this business the rest of the work is done by hand the extracted fibers dry again until they feel like a silky yarn but one that is as strong as rope at this point it’s also ideal for dying the final stop is the weaving shed where the making of household goods and handicrafts begins some of the designs on these rugs are inspired by traditional east african patterns other products are custom made for clients it can take up to a month to weave a rug the price varies but many start at around five hundred dollars texfad employs 23 people and even offers an internship program for students the problem that we have here in our country we study we get our degrees but we don’t have opportunities esther inibiona has been at the company for about a year she started as an intern and is now one of the main weavers well i like the people i work with is because they are motivating they help there are different groups of people around it’s a very good thing because you interact with people of all ages banana textiles have been around for centuries in countries like the philippines nepal and japan but texfad is one of the first companies to bring it to uganda and the potential is huge because the country produces more bananas than any other in east africa about 9 million tons every year that’s about 5 tons of fruit for every person in uganda i will never get worried that i won’t have materials tomorrow as long as we ugandans are eating bananas on a daily basis and while kimani’s business has grown over the past eight years it isn’t enough to make a dent in the 30 billion dollar global banana industry environmentalists say that composting the stems into fertilizers would be a more immediate solution it prevents dehydration it prevents deforestation and it gets a richer soil and richest oil is a more healthy banana many farms do that but chopping the stems requires tough manual labor so for most farmers in uganda getting rid of them is easier and faster still these kinds of textiles are biodegradable and are a more sustainable alternative to other popular fabrics banana fiber absorbs dyes better than cotton which means it needs less water and less land to produce but the special equipment and expertise hold back this method from becoming more widespread it could spread over the world if more machines are found and developed that actually makes such thin material that you can use it for the clothing industry because currently it’s quite hard to do so and not a lot of machines have been developed or it’s costly still kamani dreams big even during a pandemic i’m just imagining if there was no coffee i think we would be a little further than we are today and he’s always innovating there is no rocket science in what we are doing here no even people who come to land here they don’t take much time to to land but this is just the beginning i can tell you that banana fiber is the next fiber the next fiber in terms of sustainable the fibers for fashions are not just for fashions for everything [Music] you
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