Turning Banana Stems Into Textile Fibres
The textiles sector faces significant challenges moving into the future. The most common fibres, like cotton, are generally inseparable from chemicals and binders and consequently very expensive to reprocess to the recycle or biodegrade. In a sector where there is significant turnover in terms of products, it is becoming apparent that finding a way to utilise materials in more than one cycle could offer companies a significant economic advantage.
It’s no surprise then that new innovations in terms of fibre recycling technologies and alternative material sources are being invested in and explored. One unusual example of that solution seeking, which was recently unearthed by the Philippine Textile Research Institute, is the potential opportunity to use banana plant stems as the source of a new bio-sourced fibre. Research found that around one billion tonnes of banana plant stems are wasted every year with the potential for banana plantations in the Philippines alone generating more than 300,000 tonnes of textile fibre.
As is the case with most exploratory materials, the full potential and possibilities of the banana stem fibre is pretty much an unknown. However, textile company Offset Warehouse are one of the first movers experimenting with the new material, which is likened to hemp or bamboo. It needs fewer chemicals and less water to manufacture and can be mostly bio-degraded at the end of use.