Researchers at IPB University in Bogor, West Java, are looking into turning empty palm fruit bunch waste into threads with economic value for the fashion and creative industries.
Siti Nikatin, one of the researchers, said the biomass could be turned into valuable biomaterial for use in shoes, bags and hats, among other products.
“It is environmentally friendly and low-emission, but it is also produced without [harmful] chemicals, which should make it economic and competitive in the market,” Siti told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
She also said the biomaterial could help ease the import of cotton by the Indonesian industries.
Empty fruit bunch (EFB) is a biomass created during the palm oil production process. As fresh fruit bunches are turned into oil in the mill, wastes primarily in the form of EFB are produced, amounting to around 20 to 25 percent weight per weight.
Manufacturers have been looking for alternative uses of the EFB and have increasingly used it as fuel. EFB commonly has a high moisture content, which lowers the combustion temperature and reduces energy efficiency.
Researchers around the world have also started to extract fibers from oil palm parts, including EFB, for use in making hard board-like items, such as a pallet.