November 2018 Newsletter

Industrialization has swept aside traditional manufacturing of many products, especially those made from fibers. Non-biodegradable synthetic fibers often have lower production costs, but with the increase of plastic waste, the use of more environmentally-friendly, natural materials may increase in the coming years. This month, we highlight fibers from American palms!

Piassava (left) and bassine (right) fibers. Bassine fibers come from Borassus flabellifer. Photo by MRousse (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Vegetable fibers, such as sisal, can be a source of sustainable and biodegradable fibers when production is managed in the right way. Fibers coming from palms have a high potential to affect local communities in a positive way  If done properly.

Piassava is a fiber that can be obtained from three different south American palm species, Leopoldinia piassaba (native to the Amazon basin), Attalea funifera (endemic to the coastal zone of Bahia State in Brazil) and the less well-known Aphandra natalia (western Amazon Basin). Also, similar fibers are produced from some Old World palms. Of the three, Attalea funifera has the greatest commercial potential, and Brazilian producers have been looking at not just extractive methods, but also growing the palm in plantations.

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