How Banana waste turned into Fabric and Textiles

How Banana waste turned into Fabric and Textiles

Transforming Banana waste into Fabric and Textile.

 The African country Uganda is one of the largest producers and consumers of bananas. But for every ton of the fruit, plantations leave behind plenty of refuse. Then how banana waste turned into something useful like fiber and textile?. TexFad transforms them into a tough fabric that will be woven into rugs, placemats, and even hair extensions.  

 

 Uganda is one of the largest consumers of bananas in the world. Bananas are one of the world’s most wasteful crops. Every ton of the fruit plantation leaves behind two tons of refuse, and these giant stems are a part of the problem. Farmers in this country typically burn them, but that pollutes the air, so instead of throwing it or dumping it, one company in Uganda has figured out how to granulate banana fiber for the production of rugs, placemats, even hair extensions.

How is Banana waste turned into Rugs, Fabric, and Hair Extensions?

The headquarters of TexFad is in the outskirts of Kampala, where every waste part of the banana is transformed into tough fiber that can be woven into various products like carpets, textile, and handspun yarn. Banana stem only fruits once in its lifetime before it rots or catches a virus. Plantations produce two tons of debris for every ton of fruit, but in those mounds of refuse, Kimani Maturi saw potential…

He founded TexFad in 2013 after discovering his love for handweaving in college, “I cannot finish using the waste that is out there it’s too much,”– Kimani said.

Transforming Banana waste into Fabric and Textile.
Image Credit- TexFad

 Initially, workers cut the stems into slender chunks and leave them out to dry in the sun, and then they feed those ropes into an extractor.  This is an integral step and the only part of the process that requires machinery, and it’s not cheap. This unit costs anywhere 1000$ for old used one and 1000$-10,000$ for brand new machinery.

          The price of these machines was an obstacle to Kimani Maturi for expanding this business, so the rest of the work is done by hand. 

The extracted fibers dry again until they feel like silky yarn but as strong as a rope; at this point, it’s also ideal for dying. The ultimate stop is the weaving shed, where the making of household goods and handicrafts starts up. Some of the designs on these rugs are stimulated by conventional East African patterns; other products are custom-made for clients.

TexFad ( Turning banana waste into Fashion and Textiles)

 It can take up to a month to weave a rug; the price differs according to the size and shape… but many start at around five hundred dollars. There are 23 employees in TexFad, and it even offers an internship program for interested students.

 The problem that we faced is mostly unemployment. We study, we get our degrees, but we don’t have opportunities. So startups like TexFad are golden opportunities for freshers, and Kimani provides the best chance for people in Uganda.


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So, could banana waste become an eco-friendly alternative to cotton and silk? 

 Banana textiles have been around for decades in countries like the Philippines, Nepal, and Japan. Still, TexFad is one of the first companies to bring it to Uganda, and the potential is enormous because the country produces more bananas than any other in east Africa.

            Global banana industry environmentalists say that composting the stems into fertilizers would be a more reliable solution.  It prevents dehydration, prevents deforestation, and gets richer soil, and most heavy oil is a healthier banana. 

Transforming Banana waste into Fabric and Textile.

Many farms do that, but chopping the stems requires strenuous manual labor. For most farmers in Uganda, getting rid of them is easier and faster still; these textiles are biodegradable and more sustainable than 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 this method from becoming more widespread. The fiber which has produced by TexFad is 75% waste banana and 25% cotton. TexFad is experimenting with bananas to make organic material to replace synthetic fiber to make paper products, among various possible applications.

banana fiber for decorative products
Other products of banana fibers | Image credit-TexFad

 TexFad is expanding the business of banana waste into the fabric and even cotton. They are planning to deliver products in the UK, US, Britain, and Canada.  

             Around 9 million tons each year… that’s about 5 tons of fruit for every individual in Uganda. While Kimani’s business has grown over the past eight years isn’t enough to make a dent in the 30 billion dollars. With his 23 employees last year, he made about 41,000$, and TexFad expects to produce 24000 carpets from banana waste by the end of the year.  

Here is a lot of variety in products like carpets, textile, biodegradable hair extensions, rugs, mats, and handspun yarn. The prices depend on the size and quality of the product.

 The silver lining of TexFad is the biodegradable products. That means after the use of it, you can put it in the soil to degrade.

Transforming Banana waste into Fabric and Textile.
Fiber made from banana Image Credit- TexFad

 “After using highly biodegradable hair extensions, our ladies will go and bury them in the soil and they will become manure for their vegetables” – Kimani Maturi.

 The production of the best quality fiber from bananas could spread worldwide if more machines are found and developed that make such thin material that you can use it for the clothing industry… because currently, it’s pretty hard to do so. Not many machines have been developed, or it’s costly. Kimani dreams big even during a pandemic; he tells everyone that banana fiber is the next fiber in terms of sustainability

The fibers for fashions are not just for style. But for everything! 

 

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