Green Banana Paper production facility visit by physical science class

On Wednesday 27 June the twenty-one students in physical science traveled to the Green Banana Paper production facility here on Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. Green Banana Paper produces a variety of paper products using fibers from banana stems. Bananas are not a tree but rather a perennial herb that produces a pseudostem made of tightly packed banana leaf petioles. Each stem produces a single bunch of bananas and then the stem dies. New banana stems and subsequent fruit are produced on new stems arising from the base of the plant, a rhizome like structure called a corm.

Banana stems at Green Banana Paper

Many varieties of banana stems are suitable sources of fiber for paper production. The facility tends to purchase stems from roughly 19 varieties. For applications which require longer fibers, such as the handwoven items in inventory, Musa textilis is used. The banana stems source from roughly one hundred families, providing much needed income to local families. The production facility in turn has about 35 employees, making Green Banana Paper one of the larger private employers on the small island of Kosrae.

The outer petioles of the stem are removed and the inner core is sliced lengthwise into pieces appropriate for combing the remaining stem core.

A rotating drum and comb structure inside removes non-fiber pulp while separating the banana fibers from each other.

Banana fiber hung in bundles prior to moving on to the next process.

Following the fiber extraction process the fiber undergoes a pulping process which involves the use of bicarbonate of soda and boiling, applied chemistry in action.

Our very informative guide explained the steps of the process. Here a Hollander beater is being used to beat the fiber into a usable pulp slurry for the next step in the paper production.

Paper can be produced via a press.

Paper can also be produced via a vacuum table technique.

The paper is then put in the drying area.

Milton shows the class the resulting sheet of a paper, a grade heavy enough for use in items such as wallets.

From there the paper is sent to the printing area for printing.

From printing the product moves into the final product area, one of the largest portions of the facility and perhaps the most labor intensive. Here handmade really comes to life.

A floral design flat wallet for use in a purse.

SiCatherine observes work on the final product. The students were at liberty to move around, ask questions, and learn about the operations. This is, for me, the core of an important part of the story. Too many Kosraeans have to seek employment abroad. These men and women can remain here on the home island, gainfully employed, able to return each evening to their family and their family land. These workers are part of a team, a well cared for team. This is the ideal. So many products that are sold in malls and megastores abroad are made in sweatshops in foreign lands by workers working under horrific conditions in factories that no one is allowed into to see. Supporting Green Banana Paper by purchasing their products is supporting these men and women seen in these images.

In addition Green Banana Paper products are PETA-Approved Vegan. Green Banana Paper is also ranked VVV+, the highest level of the ethical rating for Animal Free Fashion as designated by LAV an Italian non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Eurogroup for Animals, ECEAE, ENDCAPtivity, and the Fur Free Alliance. The use of banana stems, which are discarded as a result of banana farming, and thus a waste product, is at the heart of Green Banana Paper's sustainable paper production capabilities. Their processes are eco-friendly and the company is community centered.

Hand made on the island of Kosrae.

Green Banana Paper has also garnered accolades, winning Source Direct at the ASD Market Week event in Las Vegas, March 2018.

Pins mark the places to which Green Banana Paper products have been sent.

Jayleen models product.

The hanging purses are handwoven banana fiber.

Wallets are a principal product including wallets and pocketbooks.



More banana fiber products!

Singkitchy having a look at the product line.

Green banana paper wallet meets green bananas!

On behalf of the class I want to sincerely thank our hosts, Derek and Milton, as well as Rodele, for the very informative tour. I also want to thank the team at the Kosrae campus of the College of Micronesia-FSM for their ongoing support for the SC 130 Physical Science class this summer with special thanks to Instructional Coordinator Tilfas for his support and to Ted for providing transport for the class.


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