In 1995, Ramy Azer recognised that an increasingly stringent and regulatory global environment was a significant issue facing forest-based industries and products. Trees from both plantations and forests were and remain the primary source for the ever-increasing global demand for fibre.
With increasing scrutiny around sustainability, environmental and regulatory objectives, renewable sources of a variety of primary fibres are plentiful, including:
However, secondary fibre crops which have historically been grown for their fruit, sap, seed, oil and leaves, providing fibre at relatively low economic and environmental costs, exist as well, including:
- sugar cane/bagasse
- palm oil
As a young man, Azer had sold blank traditional papyrus, the ancient Egyptian paper made from sliced reeds, in Europe. With this experience and a strong environmental conscience, after completing a Mechanical Engineering degree (UniSA), Azer was awarded a scholarship by Adelaide University to investigate various manufacturing processes and alternative fibre sources that were readily available in Australia.
In particular, he wondered how, using conventional paper manufacturing methods, the paper industry could reduce its consumption of water, energy and chemical additives, as well as the toxic effluent released into the environment.
Undertaking detailed research for an environmental substitute to wood-based fibre, he identified the trunk of the banana palm as an ideal source of fibre.
Sustainable, renewable, abundant and available all year round, banana plantations cover more than 10 million hectares, with an average of 1,500 plants per hectare, in more than 160 countries – many of which are vulnerable and lacking in significant industry to support their citizens.
Developing a world-first technology that converts the waste trunk of the banana palm into products that support the paper, packaging, furniture, building, construction, agriculture and other industries, the Papyrus process uses a renewable fibre source that is:
- 100% sustainable
- does not contribute to the destruction of natural or
purpose-planted forests, and
- does not consume any chemicals or water during the
Further, the Papyrus process is significantly more environmentally-friendly with lower production costs when compared to the production of similar products. Papyrus Australia Ltd was born. Successfully obtaining a series of government grants to assist in the commercialisation of its technology, in 2005, Papyrus Australia (PPY) listed on the Australian Stock Exchange with an initial issue of 20 million shares.
In growing the brand, profile and financial prowess of Papyrus Australia, the company is seeking to license its technology to suitable entities that will establish banana veneer and banana fibre production factories in locations where banana is grown across the globe, providing an affordable, recyclable, sustainable, and completely biodegradable alternative to the destruction of the world’s forests.