According to research, the world continues to experience the massive destruction of trees. Although the planet houses trillion of trees, these have been disappearing at an alarming rate, mostly due to human-driven activities. It has been tallied that 15.3 billion trees are being cut annually and 46% of the world’s trees have been wiped out for the past 12,000 years.
CocoPallet, a Dutch start-up, is one of the companies that is taking action to combat this problem and lessen the cases of deforestation.
The company has come up with a solution by producing 100% bio based and durable export pallets made from coconut husk. These coco pallets can be used to replace timber pallets that are acquired through logging millions of trees, causing the unnecessary disappearance of a huge number of trees.
The cost of manufacturing these coco pallets are also way cheaper, as it doesn’t require harmful and expensive pest control treatments such as Methyl-Bromide Fumigation that are usually used for manufacturing wood pallets.
These coconut husks also contain lignin, a natural glue in plants that makes usage of artificial glue unnecessary.
The technique of making hard boards out of coconut husks was pioneered by researchers from Wageningen University including Jan Van Dam, a plant scientist, but it was adopted and placed in market by CocoPallet’s founder, Michiel Vos.
In a lot of tropical countries, coconut husks are often thrown away after utilizing its other parts. However, Van Dam explained that coconut husks are promising as it offers various potential uses.
According to him, utilizing these husks is like hitting several birds with one stone. By simply using this as an alternative to wood, we can lessen deforestation, create extra income for farmers and reduce pollution and climate change.
In 2005, Van Dam started some sort of trial project in the Philippines to market this technique, but it was eventually cut short due to inadequate local power supply.
After 5 years, the project was brought back by Michiel Vos. Vos was originally interested in using bamboo as an alternative to hardwood, but to do so, he needs a natural glue so he asked Van Dam for a suggestion. However, instead of recommending a natural glue, Van Dam advised him to utilize the coconut husk instead.
Because it is easy to have access to coconut husks especially in Asia, Vos was eventually convinced to use coconut husks for his technology.
“CocoPallets have important advantages: they are stronger and lighter than the old-fashioned pallets, they are fire retardant, and thanks to an adjusted design, also easier to stack, so they take up less space. Above all, they are cheaper, and a lower price is always the best sales argument for a sustainable product,” Vos added.
It was estimated that CocoPallet technology saves more than 200 million trees from being cut down annually.