December 2019 \ Diaspora News \ DIASPORA—SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Indian-origin researcher turns banana plant into packaging material

An Indian-origin researcher-led team at the University ...

  • Prof. Jayashree Arcot (left) and Martina Stenzel

An Indian-origin researcher-led team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in November announced it has discovered a novel way to turn banana plantation waste into packaging material that is not only biodegradable but also recyclable. Associate Professor Jayashree Arcot and Professor Martina Stenzel looked at ways to convert agricultural waste into something that could value-add to the industry it came from, while potentially solving problems for another.

“What makes the banana growing business particularly wasteful compared to other fruit crops is the fact that the plant dies after each harvest,” Arcot from UNSW School of Chemical Engineering, said in a statement. “We were particularly interested in the pseudostems - basically the layered, fleshy trunk of the plant which is cut down after each harvest and mostly discarded on the field. Some of it is used for textiles, some as compost, but other than that, it’s a huge waste,” she added.