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Tequila Waste and Recycled Plastics Form Stronger Wood Alternative

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agave-bagasse-plastic-woodUnwanted byproducts from the tequila-making process, combined with recycled plastics, make up a new material that can replace wood. This new product is much stronger than natural wood, making it much more desirable for furniture production than the ever-so-needed photosynthesizing trees.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest are lost each year.  Although the purposes are many, from farmers needing additional land for agriculture, through wood for furniture or match sticks, all the way to paper production, the inevitable outcome is only one- extensive and very threatening deforestation.

An enthusiastic team from the Mexican startup Plastinova, searched for an alternative material that can replace wood in at least one of its applications. The guys focused on finding alternative material for furniture making specifically that can have the same, or better, properties.

In their search for that miracle material, the guys not only stumbled on it, but they also found a way to utilize the byproduct of the tequila-making process and reuse recycled plastics. The new material is made of agave bagasse, reduced to fiber, left over from the production of the famous Margarita ingredient. This fiber is then turned into powder and mixed with a chemical agent to stabilize, which then allows it to bind to recycled plastics.

The product, which is apparently much stronger than natural wood, is shaped into large tablets, which can then be cut to the needed size.  This makes it particularly suitable for making tables, benches, chairs, even flooring.

The only problem that the makers foresee is that tequila makers are now increasingly using their byproduct to produce biodiesel and power their production process. This makes the agave bagasse challenging to acquire and pushed the inventors from Plastinova to search for an alternative. They are now testing coconut fibers, and are happy to announce that it might actually turn out to make the material even stronger.

Image (c) Plastinova

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