Agri-food waste is going bananas globally

Agri-food waste is going bananas globally

It is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food, about one-third of the annual production for human use, is globally lost or wasted every year. Food loss and waste equal a major loss of earth resources, such as land, water, and energy, and lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions, which together contribute to climate change.

Agri-food waste originates throughout the whole food supply chain, from production to post-harvesting, industrial processing, distribution, domestic processing, and consumption, with wastage volumes differing among phases and food commodities. In recent decades, the world population increased up to 7 billion, generating around 683 million tons of agri-food waste, 34% related to waste-loss of food produced worldwide.

This issue concerning wastes has also been acknowledged as one of the characteristics in the supply chain of the agri-food industry, in which, generally, by-products are considered as waste rather than viewed as a new resource to be utilised. As the wastes are immediately disposed, the failure to gain economic value from the by-products is inevitable.

The use of this waste-loss has become a topic of great interest, leading to the transition and implementation of a circular economy model. The objective is to close the life cycle of the products through an increase and optimisation of use.

Utilising a circular economy application, agricultural waste can be converted into bio-products such as fertilisers, energy, materials and compounds. Utilising or converting the agri-food waste into new materials or products that instil the principles of reuse, repair and recycling could help local economies. This could not only generate a stream of profit but, in the long term, reduce environmental issues.

Banana is a fruit grown mainly in tropical countries of the world. After harvest, almost 60% of banana biomass is left as waste. Worldwide, about 114 million metric tons of banana waste is produced, leading to environmental problems such as the excessive emission of greenhouse gases.

On average, a hectare of banana plantation produces 220 tonnes of waste annually and there are approximately 11.7 million hectares of banana and plantain plantations worldwide. This significant volume of agri waste generates methane, a greenhouse gas which is harmful to the environment.

Unlike fruit trees such as apples and oranges that have ongoing fruit production, a banana pseudostem matures in 6-8 months and produces only one bunch of bananas then dies. Another pseudostem can grow from the ‘mother plant’, so dead pseudostems are usually cut down to enhance the new growth. This agri-waste decomposing in plantations is problematic.

In order to bring new value to this type of agri waste, Papyrus Australia has established a sustainable, chemical-free process to convert this abundantly available banana agri waste into useful products. Not only does this reduce the creation of methane, but it also creates products that are sustainable alternatives to plastic, forest wood and chemicals.

Papyrus Australia’s technology can be used to make a range of moulded food packaging products including plates, trays, cup holders, egg cartons and clam shells.

So on the topic of agri-waste, it’s literally going bananas globally and the amount of wasted resource material is increasing. The good news is that ground-breaking and emerging technology has been developed by Papyrus Australia who are passionate about developing a sustainable future.

Papyrus’ patented technology is starting to make waves and that’s exciting for the industry and for our environment. With each banana tree producing just one bunch of bananas before it gets cut down, the potential environmental benefits of this pioneering technology are immense.



  • FAO. The State of Food and Agriculture 2019. Moving forward on Food Loss and Waste Reduction; FAO: Rome, Italy, 2019.
  • MDPI, ‘Recovery of Banana Waste-Loss from Production and Processing: A Contribution to a Circular Economy, online –