AUSTRALIA – Papyrus Australia’s innovative technology, which extracts fibre sheets from banana plants for use in paper and packaging, has been granted a US patent.
The patent - Method and Apparatus for Removing Sheets of Fibres from Banana Plants – is for a technology that converts the waste trunk of the banana palm into alternatives to forest wood products to be used in paper, packaging, furniture, building, construction and other industries.
According to Papyrus Australia, by using banana tree trunk - a renewable fibre source – the sustainable process does not contribute to the destruction of natural or purpose-planted forests. As banana tree fibre is readily available all year round, the renewable and abundant secondary raw material is a suitable alternative fibre to forest wood.
In addition, chemicals or water are also not consumed during manufacture. The company also claims that the Papyrus technology process has a lower cost structure than traditional wood-based processes.
Due to the ability to preserve the inherent natural qualities of banana trees, Papyrus products feature properties that are not found in existing wood-based products. For example, Papyrus products have natural water/fire/UV resistance, non-permeable properties, and require less sealing and coating.
As the Papyrus technology uses no chemicals during manufacture, there is no possibility of chemical contamination of the product during production, the company claims. Hence, the product range can be rated as safe for direct food contact.
Apart from the US, patent protection has also already been granted in Australia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, new Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) countries.
“The issuing of Letters of Patent by the United States Patent Office represents an important milestone in ensuring successful commercialization of the Papyrus technology,” said company chairman Ted Byrt.
“With our focus on technology development and licensing, the patents we hold in major markets such as the United States are an essential element in enhancing shareholder value.”
The company aims to license its technology to other companies that will establish banana veneer and banana fibre production factories in locations where banana is grown.
It is in the process of establishing the first commercial banana fibre production factory in Egypt, which is developed through a 50:50 joint venture with Egyptian Banana Fibre Company.
Papyrus Australia also has a joint venture agreement – termed the Yellow Pallet Project – with a number of parties to develop the world’s first banana fibre pallet, along with the construction of Veneering and Fibre Production Units.