Sugarcane bagasse is a fibrous substance derived as a by-product of the sugar manufacturing industry. It is biomass left behind after extracting the juice from sugarcane. This residue is often present as dry and pulpy matter and can be processed to produce other useful forms.
Previously, it has been mostly discarded or used as a supplementary source of heat and electricity in sugar mills. However, recent advances in the study of its material structure have paved the way for more productive use of this material. The packaging industry is the biggest beneficiary of this recent development. Therefore, it is no surprise that it is unsurprisingly beginning to attract increasing attention.
This article discusses a series of topics that revolve around sugarcane bagasse. We examine its production process in detail and outline its many associated usage benefits and application forms.
How Is Bagasse Produced?
The processes involved in the production of largesse are pretty much straightforward. We discuss these processes below by breaking them down into steps.
First, the sugarcane products are harvested in mass and crushed with a suitable provision. The crushing process facilitates the extraction of the juice from the sugarcane stalks. It ends up leaving the bagasse fibers as the only residual material.
This fibrous matter is then mixed with water and other additives if necessary. This mixing process is carried out thoroughly to ensure that the product is a consistent mass of pulp-like material. This process is the same as the making of brown paper bags which are made from wood pulps.
The pulp can be subjected to adequate heat and pressure to convert it to the desired product. The conversion process is controlled to arrive at the appropriate texture of the bagasse product. This product can now be used for various purposes, either as a packaging product or other usage provisions.
Benefits Of Sugarcane Bagasse Packaging
Sugarcane bagasse has recently been used to produce packaging materials for different products, especially food products. And when these packaging products run their course, they can be gainfully reintroduced to the ecosystem.
This is probably due to certain provisions in its material makeup that make it both highly tolerant and eco-friendly. We outline a few benefits of using packaging products made from sugarcane bagasse.
1. It can tolerate temperatures as high as 200°F due to its high internal temperature maintenance property.
2. It can firmly secure the products that it houses against grease and water penetration.
3. It is durable and can safely secure products under temperatures that are attainable in freezers and microwaves.
4. Packaging materials made from bagasse are biodegradable. This means they can be safely broken down to more environmentally friendly matter when discarded.
5. Its packaging products can be used as compost. They can be easily and naturally converted into nutrient-rich materials for use as fertilizers.
6. They provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to wood-derived packaging materials. This is because the wood-manufactured packaging product industry relies on the felling of trees to thrive.
7. As they are highly porous, they can promote breathability for food products that they house. This makes for longer shelf lives of the food products.
Common Uses Of Sugarcane Bagasse
As we’ve previously stated in this article, the suitability of bagasse as a packaging material is its most recent discovery. This provision is probably due to its material makeup. Hence, manufacturers of packaging materials worldwide exploit this provision to make bagasse-based packaging materials.
They are mostly used for packaging food products and other consumables that easily go bad. However, they are also gainfully used in various other means.
We outline some of them below, separating them into packaging and non-packaging products, starting with the former.
1. Sugarcane Bagasse Packaging Products
Sugarcane bagasse is used to produce different products employed in the packaging and dishing out of food and drinks. Some of these products include.
- Takeaway containers
- Bowls and plates
- Paper cups, chip cups, and lids
- Bagasse trays, spoons, and straw
- Container boxes, and gift wraps
2. Non-Packaging Products
This unique natural material finds useful applications in areas other than those outlined above. It can be used as a biofuel, especially in production factories where natural fuel is used to carry out combustion activities.
It is also used in the textile manufacturing industry to make different types of exotic fabric. Some of these fabrics make their way to personal clothing, bags, and other fashion items.
Another notable mention is its use as a replacement material for making cardboard boxes, plywood, and particleboard. They are treated with the appropriate additives and blended with other materials to create a homogenous mix. This mix can now be used as a composite material in various applications. Some of these application forms can be found in the construction and manufacturing industries.
The former uses bagasse as a composite material in the reinforcement of concrete to improve its overall strength.
It is on record that about 1.2 billion tons of sugarcane are produced annually. This staggering figure portrays enormous potential for bagasse production. The packaging manufacturing industries such as Bagitan Packaging can also enjoy this potential by extension. Packaging materials derived from bagasse are both locally sourced and, most importantly, environmentally friendly. And in this present era, where the increasing focus is placed on the continued sustenance of the ecosystem, it is very fitting.
This is even as packaging products make up a large portion of discarded objects in landfills. Many of these trashed items are products of fallen trees, and some are non-biodegradable. This calls for greater adoption of bagasse-based packaging products by the packaging industry. It has vast potential for the industry’s economic benefits and the natural environment by extension.