In India, though mango is the king of fruits, coconut is celebrated as fruit of prosperity. We consider coconut as an auspicious fruit and it is used in every ritual.
It is offered to Gods in temples and it also has very important place in our kitchens.
Coconut is a multipurpose fruit with high economic value, having approximately 46% of total coconut production of India, karala is the land of coconuts.
Kerala, literally means ” The land of coconut Trees”. ‘ Kera’ meaning Coconut tree and ‘ Alam’ meaning land.
But, did you ever think that coconut can save the life of many animals?
Here is an inspiring story from Kerala” of an innovative idea which will save millions of animals across the world.
Zuzana, an designer from Slovakia currently based in India has developed a material along with Susmith C Suseelan, an engineer from Kerala. Their company ‘Malay biomaterials design pvt. Ltd‘ is producing a bio composite material from coconut water, which has the look and feel of leather !
Today, they are supplying this material across Europe and the U.S. to prestigious companies like Crafting plastics, Ma-tt-er, Kazeto & TON, but there is 1 year of self funded research and their passion for sustainability behind this revolutionary product.
Zuzana , learned how the bacteria grown in coconut is used in food industry in Philippines and also in fashion industry in very few places, but she couldn’t do much research on this in London due to unavailablity of coconut. Until, when she landed in a job in Mumbai after working in london and Istanbul for sometime and met Susmit who is a mechanical engineer and product designer from Indian institute of science, Bangalore.
Once, Zuzana told Susmit about potential of bacterial cellulose in coconut water and the discussion took them so far, that they decided to quit their jobs to research on this idea. Soon, they also collaborated with Karnataka manufacturing unit, which was already working on similar fermentation process.
This product is stretchy and has same thickness as leather with durability and wear & tear resistance tested by German company, TUV – based in Chennai. They are specialised in product testing and according to their certification this product is fairly good in comparison to leather, say Zuzana.
Coconuts are bought directly from farmers and the fermentation process takes about 14 days, end of which a sheet of cellulose ‘jelly’ is produced and the best part is, no aggressive chemical is used in the process.
Finally, after these sheets are dried and softened with a water resistant treatment high glossy, glossy and matte sheets are produced through oil and water based coating which then gets crafted in to various products.
Currently, this is a costlier product in comparison to its competitors due it’s extensive process but Zuzana and Susmit are trying their best to make it affordable to larger base of customers. Currently majority of their clients are international. There present setup in outskirts of kochi has capacity of producing 200 sq.mtr of material in the form of sheets.
This year Zuzana and Susmit have joined hands with a research team of IIT Hyderabad to make this accessible to Indian market.
But, like everything else, during these Corona days production for Malai Biomaterials pvt. Ltd. is on hold but innovative minds of Zuzana and Susmit are on the way to design a product that is superior than leather.
In future, We want to enter the domains of furniture and Interior design, says Zuzana.
Today, this world is in need of innovative designers like Zuzana and Susmit who can offer sustainable choices to customers.