An innovative method was developed to produce a new, high quality building board material, Ecocoboard, from the fibrous coconut husks without addition of chemical adhesives. Commercial use of the husks would substantially increase the profitability of coconut farming and contribute to the economy and export of the Philippines.
From waste to building materials
Coconut trees typically are growing in the bountiful tropical coastal areas of Asia, Oceania, Africa and Central America. Coconut husks, a waste product from the copra and coconut oil production, are found there abundantly. An innovative method to produce Ecocoboard was developed, which is a new, high quality building board material from the fibrous husk without addition of chemical adhesives. Techno-economic evaluation of the process showed that Ecocoboard can compete on the market for high quality wood based panels and boards for building and furniture applications.
The use of coconut husks, which are now most often considered as waste, as a resource to produce building materials to substitute wood products offers many advantages. The Philippines for example have to import a large part of their wood based building materials, and an alternative supply from local sources is of interest. In the Philippines 325 million coconut trees are growing, yielding 12 billion nuts from which about 4 million tons of Ecocoboard can be produced! Commercial use of the husks would substantially increase the profitability of coconut farming and contribute to the economy and export of the Philippines.
Supporting the local economy
The logistics of coconut husk supplies for a board manufacturing plant require the local organisation of collection and pre-processing units (Coconut Community Centres), where integrated whole nut processing is providing jobs and higher income to the farmers. Besides the combined production of improved quality copra, coconut oil and charcoal, the innovation of board manufacturing is adding value and supply of (cheap) housing material. Development at the village level will have positive effects on education and the combat of poverty. Such economic development will have the potential to contribute to the reverse of the political unrest in the coconut communities. By creation of jobs and infrastructure in the rural areas also the pressure on the ever expanding urbanization may be reduced.
This innovation is considered to offer a good opportunity to fulfil the urgent need for value addition and income generation for the poorest farmers, for the development of the rural communities, and the stimulation of the local economy.
The simple and robust technology that was developed for Ecocoboard production is designed to promote the industrial development in the coconut growing countries.
Since the project was developed with public funding (CFC) no IP rights were claimed by the research partners. Commercialisation of this novel technology requires therefore an unconventional approach (franchise / fair trade / eco-labelling) to ensure that investments are returned and also revenues for sustaining the farming communities are generated.
A detailed business plan has been developed and a blueprint of the lay out can be replicated in many areas with sufficient coconut supplies.
The adaptation of the technology by transfer of knowhow to the industry in many countries requires the organisation and involvement of many different stakeholders like technicians, machine manufacturers and investors, marketers, building companies, etcetera.
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