We keep saying ‘the world is changing’. On many accounts, it HAS already changed, and the new paradigms have already been established. Sustainability is no longer a fad to latch onto, but is THE basis for doing business; particularly for industries that engage in physical production and manufacturing. And, the secret for achieving true sustainability, which we are about to divulge, is also a major part of our backstory and purpose of existence. So, stay glued to the writing on your screen. Things get interesting here onwards.
Revive and Reinvent…
And there you have it; the secret for sustainability. While it’s no guarded secret, itis one that has escaped the attention of the business world at large. To understand the logic here, you need to go back in time (a century or two at least).
Our ancestors were not yet beneficiaries of the industrial revolution. Pretty much everything they crafted made use of materials sourced from the natural world (the inspiration for our tagline; ‘Born, not made’ is in direct reference), and we thought; if then, why not now?
With the rise of the machines, and the monotony of economies of scale (we love the cost advantages gained though), the art of craft and the natural materials used in the process lost their appeal, in favour of cheaper (not on the environment), synthetic alternatives.With escalating concerns on environmental sustainability, we see the revival of old ways, reinvented for a new age, as the best solution for it.
The coconut fibre?
Again, why not? The coconut fibre has its first documented instance of use in the first century, where Greek sailors observed East-African villages using the material in the construction of boats. Similarly, more accounts are recorded across the 11th and 13th centuries, of this ‘wonder-fibre’ being used for manufacturing purposes; particularly in costal or tropical regions such as Sri Lanka, India, Polynesia, and the Persian Gulf. Maritime explorers are long known to have used coconut fibre-based cables and rigging on board their ships; a testament to its inherent strength and reliability. This last claim was what made us believers in the potential of coconut fibre.If our ancestors were aided by it to move between continents, how much more use should we make out of coconut fibre, by applying technology to enhance its scope of application? Lots more, we think.
A 100% sustainable resource
The beauty of the coconut fibre is that it is a great stand-alone resource… which comes into being as a total by-product of coconut cultivation and harvesting. Once the nut is extracted, the remaining husk is processed to obtain the raw coconut fibre. In a given year, we discard almost 80% of these husks, which sadly translates to a massive commercial opportunity lost to our country. This is why we have made it our A-grade priority to make use of a nature-gifted resource that very few seem to care for.The production of coconut fibre requires no trees to be cut, doesn’t involve re-directing of food sources, nor does it require specific agricultural lands to be set aside. It is simply, there for the taking, at no added cost to mother earth.
Human livelihoods do depend on it
Approximately 40,000 people are directly employed in the coconut fibre industry, while a 400,000 more are indirectly related or affected by it. This is according to a National Agribusiness Council report in 2001, and therefore the numbers would have changed over time. Still, Sri Lanka produces an average yield of 3 million coconuts (give or take a few hundred thousand depending on climatic conditions) every year, and the coconut fibre sector alone, generated a revenue of USD 188 million in 2018; which was 32% of all revenue made through coconuts and coconut-based products for the year.
As an industry though, coconut fibre is going through a rough patch. Ever increasing competition from synthetic alternatives, and poor internal and external regulation of the trade has kept the potential of Sri Lanka’s coconut fibre product from being fully realized.While we cannot make positive changes overnight, we still believe that Sebastco can become a catalyst for that change, by redefining the value of the Sri Lankan coconut fibre to the rest of the world.
And there you have it; our case for reviving coconut fibre as a sustainable and commercially important resource. Naturally, to stand out anew in the world, we cannot take the same path as before. The journey Sebastco has embarked on, will see the coconut fibre reimagined for the future, where the integration of technology will enable us to engineer it for new and exciting products and applications. We have made it our purpose to give this amazing gift of nature, a second life; a renaissance of sorts. So, join us by following Sebastco on social media, become a part of our mission, and let’s get the world excited for coconut fibre! Let's Make it Great Again!
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