FUTURE
FIBRES

Coir is the thickest and most resistant of all commercial natural fibres, coir is a coarse, short fibre extracted from the outer shell of coconuts. Its low decomposition rate means is a key advantage for making durable geo-textiles.

 

The plant

Coir is extracted from the tissues surrounding the seed of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), which is grown on 10 million ha of land throughout the tropics

 

The fibre
Coir fibres measure up to 35 cm in length with a diameter of 12-25 microns. A coconut harvest occurs once in 45 days. From 1000 coconuts it would be possible to extract 10 kgs of coir. Among vegetable fibres, coir has one of the highest concentrations of lignin, making it stronger but less flexible than cotton and unsuitable for dyeing. The tensile strength of coir is low compared to abaca, but it has good resistance to microbial action and saltwater damage and needs no chemical treatment.

 

 There are two types of coir:  the more commonly used brown fibre, which is obtained from mature coconuts, and finer white fibre, which is extracted from immature green coconuts after soaking for up to 10 months. Mature coir fibres contain more lignin, a complex woody chemical, and less cellulose than fibres such as flax or cotton.

 

Environmental benefits 

Coir is a material which is widely used to overcome the problem of erosion. When woven into geotextiles and placed on areas in need of erosion control it promotes new vegetation by absorbing water and preventing topsoil from drying out. Coir geotextiles have a natural ability to retain moisture and protect from the suns radiation just like natural soil, and unlike geosynthetic materials, it provides good soil support for up to three years, allowing natural vegetation to become established.

 

Coir industry development

Much of coir production is done by smallholders meaning production is scattered and at small volumes. Integrated farm level processing as a community/cooperative approach would help to facilitate greater availability of technology to process the husk and extract the fibre in volumes needed for industrial buyers. Since many of the developing countries growing coconuts are not utilizing coconut husk to produce value-added products, providing such facilities can go along way to provide employment, increase the income of coconut farmers and reduce poverty and provide environmental benefits associated with the use of the nutrient-rich waste product. 

Geotextile

Recognition of coir for sustainable vegetation and erosion control arises from the fact that it is an abundant, renewable natural resource with an extremely low decomposition rate and a high strength compared to other natural fibres. Coir is woven into thick textiles which are applied like blankets on the ground in erosion-prone areas. Geotextiles made from coir are durable, absorb water, resist sunlight, facilitate seed germination, and are 100% biodegradable. These blankets have high strength retention and a slow rate of degradation meaning they last for several years in field applications. 

Coir is widely used in the upholstery industry, and it is a healthy substitute for processed synthetic rubber. It is also used as a combination with natural rubber and is used for filling up mattresses, automobile seats, sofas, settees, and seating systems. European automobile producers upholster cars with pads of brown coir bonded with rubber latex.  Coir is used for insulation and finds application in panels, cold storages, food industry, etc.

 

Byproducts 

The waste product from milling the coir is peat or pith which makes for high-quality mulch and fertilizer. Coir peat compost developed from coir waste is excellent organic manure and soil conditioner applicable to agricultural crops.

 

 

Production & trade

The coir industry is fully developed only in India and Sri Lanka, but economically important in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Coconuts are typically grown by small-scale farmers, who use local mills for fibre extraction.

Globally around  650 000 tonnes of coir are produced annually, mainly in India and Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka are also the main exporters, followed by Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Around 80 per cent of the coir produced is exported in the form of raw fibre. Smaller quantities are exported as yarn, mats, matting and rugs.

 

COIR

FUTURE FIBRES

FUN FACTS

 

  •  Coir Fibres Not flammable

 

  • Coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut.

 

  • The Coconut Tree is often referred to as the “Tree of Life” due to the numerous benefits, uses and most importantly its contribution towards the well-being and livelihoods of the people, as well as the economy

 

  • Coir Fibres Not flammable

 

  • The Coconut Husk, which is the fibrous outer protective coat of the Coconut Fruit, is separated from the fruit and processed to obtain coir fibre, coir fibre pith and coconut husk chip products. Coir fibre pith (CFP) is a by-product obtained from the fibre extraction process (de-fibering process). CFP was once considered a waste product, as the coir fibre was the most sought-after product and prominently used in several applications such as erosion control, landscaping, insulation and other industrial and household applications. 

 

  • Coconut shell biowaste charcoal is an important product obtained from the burning of the coconut shell. Shell charcoal is used widely as a domestic and industrial fuel, an organic fertiliser and also used by blacksmiths and goldsmiths in laundries.

 

  • The above could help improve soil quality, reduce pesticides and ensure that any coconut inspired fashion supply chain is circular

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