As rainforests are destroyed across the world and deforestation rapidly contributes to global warming, a startup business has found an ingenious solution to part of a growing problem.
The Asian pallet industry allows businesses to export a huge range of goods around the world. 1.7 billion pallets are manufactured annually for Asian exporters, resulting in environmental damage from logging and transportation of 200 million trees-worth of timber.
Meanwhile, billions upon billions of coconuts fall from palms trees, and their husks are mostly unwanted by farmers who often end up burning them.
But a Dutch startup has found an ingenious solution and taken the market by storm, and the company is on its way to saving 200 million trees every year.
CocoPallet buys coconuts from farmers across Asia, and turns them into export pallets. The pallets only use the ‘outer-hairy-part’ of the coconut called the husk, which is wasted 85% of the time.
The technology was originally developed by Jan Van Dam, a plant-fibre scientist at Wageningen University. He was inspired to develop the technology by an Indonesian carpenter, who presented the traditional coconut-based prototype to him.
“Rock hard, wood-like board material from coconut husk? That was new to me,” he told Dutch daily ‘de Volkskrant’.
“We looked for improvements and came up with a technique where the ground up husk is pressed together at a high temperature.”
The procedure ensures the wood is resistant to termites without having to treat it with any environmentally-unfriendly substances.
Van Dam then met with CocoPallet founder Michiel Vos. “Why don’t you use coconut husk, he asked … anywhere in Asia, it is found almost for free on the side of the road,” Vos recalled.
The resulting product is incredibly strong and durable, holding weights of up to 3000kg. It can also be ground into biomass and used as a green fertiliser.
“Asia produces more than a billion pallets every year. They require softwood, which does not grow in the tropics, thus, it is imported from Canada, New Zealand or Eastern Europe on a large scale,” Vos told de Volkskrant.
CocoPallets has now been recognised for its revolutionary technology with awards from Accenture and Bloomberg, and plans to expand to save as many trees as possible from across Asia.
CocoPallets doesn’t require harmful and costly pest-treatments or substances which are bad for the environment such as pesticides, synthetics resins, additives or nails.
“After use, our export pallets can be shredded, recycled or composted,” the company explains on its website.
CocoPallet is also exploring a way to use the product as soil improver pot soil.
“We buy the coconut husk from the farmers, creating extra income at the bottom of the pyramid,” the business notes.
“The farmers stop burning the coconut husks; which reduces the air pollution.
“Our CocoPallets replace single-use one-way wooden export pallets; fewer trees need to be cut and shipped for these purposes. The customer saves money and lowers its Carbon footprint.”
What do you think of CocoPallets’ new technology? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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