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Biological paper: How the banana does the trick

Paper made out of bananas: a crazy idea that might turn out to be a goldmine for the third world countries and a blessing for the environment.



A banana as creation invented it...
Picture by T. Micke

Bananas of all things! And a Japanese professor of architecture of all people wants to turn bananas into an absolute miracle plant.

An incredible amount of 58 million tons of bananas are produced every year worldwide according to the FAO, a UN organisation. Every year a billion ton biological waste consisting of stalks and fibrous trunks just rots on the plantations. The banana plants get cut down after every harvest to assure that a new shoot can grow out of the trunk of the old plant. Then the shoot can bear fruits within 3 to 6 months.

Among the 129 exporting countries are some of the poorest in the world. It was professor Hiroshi Morishima's goal to come to the aid of these countries. Until now he had only kept busy with the ancient Japanese traditional fabrication of paper as a hobby. However thanks to his knowledge he was able to introduce a method of paper production at the climate conference in Johannesburg where the waste of the banana plantations can easily be turned into high qualtiy paper without chemicals or electricity.

Production of high quality paper from banana waste fibre
Picture by Morishima

The UNESCO was immediately thrilled by this forward-looking project. About a dozen of the third world countries are already in the planning stage. The prospects for these countries seem like a small miracle.

Professor Morishima explains in an interview: "Theoretically seen, it would be possible to produce more than half of the 170 million tons of paper that are nowadays consumed globally (especially in Europe and the USA) out of banana waste. Since 40 percent of the trees used for paper production are harvested in the rainforests, this would obviously be an enormous step for environment protection. Quality fibres could be exported to paper mills worldwide while simultaneously the high rate of unemployment could be lowered in countries like Cameroon, India or Haiti. Subsequently the rate of illiteracy could be lowered because in these countries paper is an expensive luxury good and in short supply at schools."


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© A report by Tobias Micke (13-10-02) – Contact