There is a global focus on finding practical eco-friendly, biodegradable solutions for all industry sectors. To assist in enabling this vision, business solutions company e.com institute holdings has launched a new company, the coir institute (Pty) Ltd.
Established in partnership with the Coir Board of India, the coir institute will introduce a range of proven, quality coir products to South Africa for use in the transportation, construction, mining, landscaping and environmental protection sectors.
Coir is a natural fibre made from a renewable resource, the husk of a coconut. Coir pith, husk chips and ropes are used in agriculture, while modern technologies are used to create geotextiles for erosion control and soil stabilisation, and consumer products such as pots, mats and blinds.
Coir ply, a composite board, is also being accepted as an alternative to plywood, hardboard and medium density wood fibre boards.
Says David Hoff, managing director of the newly formed coir institute: “Coir products are used around the world in the industrial, agricultural and consumer segments. However, South Africans are mostly only familiar with the coir products created for consumers. We believe there is a large market for coir ply and geotextile products, which is where we will initially focus our efforts.”
The coir institute will undertake an extensive education drive to increase awareness of coir’s benefits, concentrating on delivering eco-friendly solutions to southern Africa’s challenges. “Creating a sustainable future for southern Africa requires a new approach – one that welcomes and encourages the use of natural products that enhance rather than damage the environment in the long term,” says Hoff. “With our education drive we hope to eradicate any scepticism regarding these products.”
Coir products are tough, reliable and versatile. Says Hoff: “Coir geotextiles, which include nets of varying densities, coir logs, coir fibre beds and coir bags, play an integral part in bio engineering, geo technical, civil engineering works. They serve as slope stabilisation agents prior to revegetation, or can be applied for soil engineering, reinforcing, erosion control, water filtration in road drains and land reclamations.”
Some bio engineering applications for coir geotextiles include preservation of wetland environments, shoreline stabilisation, roof greening, landscaping and the development and maintenance of golf courses, as well as mine site reclamations. For geo technical and civil engineering projects coir geotextiles can be used in storm water channels, road subbases, concrete column curing and for UV protection.
Coir ply has also achieved wide acceptance. Coir ply is a composite board that comprises coir and jute impregnated with phenolic resin and limited pre-treated plantation timber veneers. The process of inter-layering is done on a special process line that gives the product high compaction strengths.
It is well accepted as an alternative to medium density wood fibre boards, doors, etc, and has over the past ten years consolidated its position as an alternative to tropical timber products.
Says Hoff: “Coir Ply has been tested and has achieved a positive response.
Key differentiators are that the product is eco-friendly and is half the price of traditional products. It is ideal for home and office interiors where it can be used in the manufacture of cupboards, wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, cots, study units, wall panelling, false ceiling, partitions, display panels and roofing, and is even being used in the construction of houses. It would be suitable for South Africa’s low cost housing markets, or for local manufacturers of wooden products for interiors.”
The coir institute will be at the Chamber of Mines Sustainable Development exhibition at the Sandton Sun on 17 and 18 October 2007.
The coir institute