Here are two several interesting developments in the world of natural plastics.
In Texas, researchers from Baylor University have found a way to use coconut husks as a replacement for synthetic polyester fibers in compression molded composites, specifically, to make trunk liners, floorboards and interior door covers on cars out of coconut fibers.
Back when I was a kid living in the Philippines, I remember my older folks burning coconut husks as fuel for outdoor cooking and grilling (instead of the more expensive charcoal) since they are just thrown away after getting the fruit and coconut water out of it. They're also useful in polishing wooden floors.
Making coconut fibers for automobile parts will definitely be a more lucrative business for coconut farmers in Southeast Asia. The Baylor researchers said they hope to triple the coconut farmer's annual income by increasing the market price for each coconut to 30 cents, which could have a substantial effect on the farmer's quality of life.
The researchers are said to be working with Hobbs Bonded Fibers, a Waco-based fiber processing company that is a supplier of unwoven fiber mats to four major automotive companies.
Across the ocean, meanwhile, is another natural plastic development this time based on rice. Agri Future Joetsu Co Ltd of Japan has developed a combination of old stocked rice (and therefore already inedible) and waste wood. The company has already been selling products out of this plastic but just recently made a deal with Victor Creative Media to make CD/DVD cases, which will hit the market this month (or next month).
Watch the video to know more about Agri Future Joetsu's rice-based plastic.
You can also access their European patent on starch-blended resin here.