In the tropical landscape of peninsular India, coconut trees form a vital resource in everyday life. From extensive culinary use to generating a wide range of household items as by-products, coconut is virtually indispensable in Southern India.
Consequently, a heap of coconut husks and shells on the roadside – blocking the drainage system, packing up the landfills, or polluting the air when burnt – is not a very rare sight. This is the ugly part of the story. Although biodegradable, coconut husks end up as useless, despite having a horde of potential uses unknown to the urban population. Even in rural areas, coconut residues are finding lesser and lesser usage as fuel or otherwise, courtesy the switch to modernised lifestyle. While India is yet to identify and address this problem, a company in Amsterdam has found a perfect sustainable solution, worthy of replication in coconut-rich nations of South-East Asia. Dutch start-up CocoPallet produces biologically processed transportation pallets from coconut husk. Not only are these 100% organic, greener, cheaper and more compact than wood or plastic pallets, but they are also indirectly preventing the felling of around 200 million trees per year in the Netherlands. Founder Michiel Vos has improvised on the technology originally developed by Wageningen University researchers and created a world-class product with equal finesse and sturdiness, that is boosting a circular economy.