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Banana stem and pineapple leaves put to use for making textile

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-03-16 15:20:00 – UK

Eco-textile company Offset Warehouse recognizes the banana’s potential and currently partners with an NGO in Nepal to ensure banana fabric production supports the artisan sector by relying on local skills, and that workers are paid fairly and operate in safe conditions.

Offset Warehouse’s founder Charlie Ross said that the material is perfect for jackets, skirts and trousers. The fabric is claimed to be nearly carbon neutral and its soft texture has been likened to hemp and bamboo.

Carmen Hijosa, founder of Ananas Anam frustrated by the heavy use of chemicals in the leather tanning process, as developed Piñatex as an alternative to it and petroleum-based textiles.

The greatest thing about Piñatex is probably that it’s made of leaf fibres … a byproduct of the pineapple harvest, said Jaume Granja, a member of the Ananas Anam team, referring to the fact leaves are usually left to rot in the ground. The leaves do not need any additional land, water or fertilisers to grow.

Making the material also brings benefits to the farming communities. The industrial process used to create Piñatex produces biomass, which can be converted into a fertiliser that farmers can spread into their soil to grow the next pineapple harvest.

The material, which has similar appearance to canvas, is also biodegradable; Hijosa and her colleagues are working on a way to ensure that the coating is sustainable and toxic-free.

In 2012, the Philippine Textile Research Institute concluded that banana plantations in the Philippines alone can generate over 300,000 tonnes of fibre as it would only take 37kg of stems to produce a kilogram of fibre. Around a billion tonnes of banana plant stems are wasted each year despite indication from research institution.

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