Untapping the value of bio-based waste in Asia

Article featured in : 5th Edition Circular Asia Magazine

South-East-Asia (SEA) is noted for several plantation cash crops, of which the most important are tea, rubber, palm oil, coconuts, and sugarcane. Besides these, SEA is also home to many fruit trees and fruit bearing shrubs that are productive throughout the year. Some of the fruits most familiar to us and available for direct consumption are jackfruit, dragon fruit, banana and mango

We quickly notice that many of these fruits are covered with a protective layer such as the peal of a banana or the hard shell of coconuts. Once the flash is consumed, the protective layer is often disposed, accummulates in a landfill-mix or is being burned. The consequene is that the burning and the accumulation of bio-waste contributes to an increase of GHGs emissions either in the form of methane through organic breakdown or carbon dioxide through burning.

Bio-based waste can be profitable

Many of us, including farmers and consumers, are used to this type of linear production, consumption and disposal. But, with the circular economy, we can go one step further by creating value from organic waste. In doing so, we can provide environmental benefits, but most of all create multiple employment opportunities with carbon friendly products. The uses of these products are versatile and with this issue, we would like to begin with providing entrepreneurial incentives for two organic waste products.


Banana is counted as one of the most important global food crop and is currently cultivated in around 129 different countries, with India contributing approximately 15% of the total fruit production worldwide. Banana fibre is produced from the ‘pseudo stem’ of the banana plant, which would usually be burnt or left to rot (apart from a small amount that is fed to cattle) (Mavulo, 2018).

Turning banana waste into profit

Instead of letting it rot, one one oft the world’s strongest natural fibres known as musa fibre (banana fibres) can be produced from it. The natural fibre is made from the stem of the banana tree and consists of thick-walled cell tissue, bonded together by natural gums and mainly composed of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. Banana fibre can be used to make a number of different textiles with different weights and thicknesses, based on what part of the banana stem the fibre was extracted from (Hendriskz, 2017). Of course, other products can be produced from it as well such as paper and rope.


Although dragon fruit is not included in the most consumed fruits or the highest produced  fruit,  the  cultivation of dragon fruit  is increasing. As people consume largely the flesh of the fruit, the amount of dragon fruit peel waste increases likewise. In Indonesia dragon fruit peel waste contributes to the 40% organic waste out of 200 tonnes of annual waste (Putri et al. 2018).

Turning dragon-fruit waste into profit

One of the most beautiful things about the dragon fruit is its color. Dragon fruit peel provides natural red color produced by pigment called anthocyanin which can be used as a subtituent from synthetic dyes to natural dyes (Sudarmi, Subagyo, Susanti and Wahyuningsih, 2015).  Because of that it has been identified as a potential source of red-purple colour with a moderate antioxidant activity for food and cosmetic decorations. Its ecological origin is meeting an economical perspective and consumers’ preference for green products as well.

Why natural dye?

  • They have a minimal environmental Impact – Because they come    from natural sources, natural dyes are not harmful to the environment, which makes it so appealing for consumers.
  • Renewable – Natural dyes are obtained from renewable sources that can be harnessed without imposing harm to the environment or simply our foods, clothes and hair 😊 (Keycolors, 2020)

Bio-waste can help us untap full environmental and economic potential in Asia.

With a growing population and more people to feed, the demand for food increases rapidly, but so does waste. Each plant and each organic material has unique featurest hat can be used and tranformed into value. In doing so, we do not only provide  enivronmental benefits, but we can also create circular employment starting on  the farmer level and rural regions.

                                               We are looking for you!

Are you an entrepreneur who already engages or produces products from bio-waste? Then, we would love to hear from you and feature you in our next magazine!


Hendriskz, V. (2017). Sustainable Textile Innovations: Banana Fibres. FashionUnited. Retrieved from: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/sustainable-textile-innovations-banana-fibre/2017082825623/amp

KEYCOLORS (2020). Advantages and Disadvantages of Natural DYES. Retrieved from: http://www.keycolour.net/blog/advantages-disadvantages-natural-dyes/

Mavolu (2018). From Waste to Value: Banana Fibre for Fashion and Textiles. Retrieved from: https://mavolu.com/blogs/news/from-waste-to-value-banana-fibre-for-fashion-and-textiles

Putri, C. H., Janica, L., Jannah, M., Ariana, P. P., Tansy, R. V., & Wardhana, Y. R. (2018). Utilization of Dragon Fruit Peel Waste as Microbial Growth Media. The 10th Conference of Indonesian Student Association in South Korea, At University of Science and Technology, Daejeon

Sudarmi, S., Subagyo, P., Susanti, A., & Wahyuningsih, A. S. (2015). Simple Extraction of Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus polyrhizus) Peel as Natural Dye Colorant. Eksergi12(1), 05-07.

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