Global waste management: How waste from banana is turned into rugs


Bananas are one of the world’s most waste generating crops. The part of the problem is its giant stems. When farmers burn them, that Immensely pollutes the air. Therefore one company in Uganda has found a way to convert these stems into fiber to make rugs and hair extensions.
Every banana stem only fruits once in its lifetime before its rots or catches a virus. For every ton of plantation of fruit, two ton debris is generated. But in those mounts of debris, a company in Uganda found potential. Texfed was founded in 2013.
First the banana stems are cut into celery shaped chunks by the workers. Then they are left out to dry in the sun. Then those strands are fed into an extractor. It is the crucial step of the process and this is the only step that requires machinery. It is an expensive procedure. The expenditure incurred is a problem in expanding the business. The rest of the work is done manually by hands.
The extracted fibers are dried again until they feel like silky yarn. They are also strong as a rope. At this point, they are ideal for dying. The final stop is the weaving shed where the making of household goods and handicrafts begin. Inspiration is taken from traditional East african patterns to make designs on rugs. Products are also custom made for clients.
It can take upto a month to weave a rug. The price varies but it typically starts from five hundred dollars. Texfed employs around 25 people. Students can also work here as interns. Banana textiles have been in various countries for centuries such as Japan, Nepal and Philippines but Texfed is the first country to bring it to Uganda. It has great potential because the country produces approximately 9 million tons of bananas every year.
Environmentalists suggest that composting the banana stems into fertilizers will be a more economical option. Still these kinds of textiles are biodegradable and sustainable options. Banana fibers absorb dye better than cotton. Banana fibre is the next fiber in terms of sustainable fibers and this technique should be spread worldwide.


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