I met Marco Cassin. He is the founder and one of the directors of Beleaf along with his father and someone else.They are based in Monaco.
Marco found a way to make a veneer from a waste by product of the Organic banana industry.
The veneer uses the core of the banana plant which is 30% of the plant stem, the fibre in this core is 10 times stronger than man made carbon fibre. They are trying to find a way to use the rest of the stem to make an MDF type board to bond the veneer to. For now they bond it to a formaldehyde free MDF.
If you didn’t know, the banana plant is a plant, not a tree. It is a bit like an asparagus, it shoots up and 6 months later produces bananas, then this is cut down and the cycled starts again. Normally the plant is burned or left to rot which produces CO2. It would be better to compost the waste, capture the bio gas to use for cooking then use the compost to feed the soil of the Banana plantations.
The veneer gets it’s natural colour from oxidation, being exposed to the air. Naturally it starts off totally pale, then turns different variations of brown.
The veneer is bound together using just it’s natural glues that are contained in the banana fibre, no extra glue is added.
In the factory, they minimise heat and electricity by prolonging the production process which means that they don’t have to use higher wattage more agressive machines. They don’t use water but instead produce a liquid that comes out of the banana core, this contains minerals and organic compounds that they use to fee the plants with to improove the soil. Marco says they want to be as low impact as possible.
What I particularly like about Marco is that he is actually interested in sustainability, he wants to produce the best, most natural product, it isn’t just a gimmick to jump on the green bandwagon. And I believe that because he chooses to use Organic bananas rather than traditional sprayed Bananas which he could easily do, and he prefers to slow down the manufacturing process and use less electricity rather than blast it and get it out as quickly as possible, maybe this comes from his Italian background where cooking of meals is a process when one takes their time and puts love into the mix.
This video below shows how amazingly flexible the banana veneer is.
My aim is to promote the use of such great natural materials.
29 April 2012
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