For many years, the coconut has been renowned for its flesh and milk. However, the shells from coconuts are also used for many different products. Did you know the coconut is also used in food products, as well as cosmetics such as shampoos? Other coconut products include mats and seat stuffing made from coconut fibres. Where does coconut come from and how sustainable is it?
Where does coconut come from?
From fibre matting and compost to Bounty; all coconut products are made from the nuts of Cocos nucifera. The hard central core of coconut shells is made from a certain type of carbon that is suitable to be used as a raw material for plastic. And horticulturists use the fine coir (the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut) from the coconut shell as a (component of) plant growth media. Farmers grow coconut palms on large plantations. Especially in India and Sri Lanka. But these plantations can also be found in the Philippines, Indonesia and Central Africa.
Nothing is thrown away
The coconut farmers earn their income from every part of the coconut palm. For example, during the long growth period, they use the fruits and leaves as roofing materials. At the end of its life, the trunk makes fine building material. And by cutting the coconut shell or ‘husk’ in a particular way, coconut fibres and coir can be harvested.
No waste, compost!
A quarter of a century ago, coconut coir was simply a residual product. That was until some Dutch entrepreneurs stumbled upon the massive potential of the ‘waste’: they saw compost. The first trials for the use of coconut coir in horticulture quickly followed. Since then, it has become an excellent by-product from which the farmers can earn extra income.