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    Trash Photos VI: Husk Mountains

    By Keith R | October 26, 2006

    Topics: "Trash Photos" Series, Waste & Recycling | 4 Comments »

          
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    Coconut Husks Awaiting Export in North Coast DR

    I took the above picture in July 2003 while traveling by car on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic with my family. When I saw this fenced lot stacked high with this waste and realized what they were, I pulled over, got out and walked up to the chain-link fence. The lot’s watchman came to check me out, so I struck up a conversation with him.

    “Why are all these coconut husks piled here?” I asked.

    “They wait here for export,” he answered.

    “Export?” I echoed, mildly surprised, and turned to glance again at the piles. “Where to? Why would they be worth the expense of exporting and shipping abroad?”

    “I hear that they go to Italy and that they are used in making seat cushions for cars.”

    I knew that Daimler-Benz was experimenting with coir fill for vehicle seats and headrests in their Brazilian manufacturing operations, but I had not heard that FIAT was doing likewise in its European plants and couldn’t picture Ferrari doing so. [Coir is the fiber that can be extracted from the coconut husk.] I felt it far more likely those coconuts were going to end up in European gardening shops as a substitute for peat. But I had lived long enough in the DR to know that watchmen usually just repeated whatever rumors they heard, so I didn’t contest his explanation.

    I chatted with him for a couple of minutes and then asked his permission to take a photo through the links of the fence. He consented. The result you see above.

    As we left I made a mental note to myself to make some inquiries about that site and the end-consumer and end-use of those coconut husks, as well as what sort of products could be made from the parts of the coconut one doesn’t eat or drink.

    I never could confirm anything about those particular piles I spotted on the DR’s North Coast — let’s just say that I still doubt those husks were destined for car seat stuffing and that they were bound for Italy, at least as their final destination.

    However, in the process of looking into it I did find out quite a bit about coconuts, their byproducts and wastes and what we can do with them. More on that next in a two-part article sharing some of what I learned.

    — Keith R

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    4 Responses to “Trash Photos VI: Husk Mountains”

    1. namd3r Says:

      Wow, that’s pretty awesome…and random…but still awesome. Can’t wait to read part two 😀

    2. Emiliano Galigani Says:

      Hallo, I’m the owner of the Company that you saw in dominican republic. I’ll be glad to answer your question about coco (obviously, if you have any).
      Regards,
      Emiliano Galigani.

    3. Keith R Says:

      Emiliano, welcome to The Temas Blog, I hope you visit & comment often.

      I am curious what kind of coir and pith-based products you offer at present or plan to in the near future, since your website is a bit vague about that. Also curious what are your primary export markets and whether you’re allowed to sell any of the product within the DR, since you seem to be located in a free trade zone.

      I would be very interested in your comments — or perhaps even a guest blog — on what potential you see for greater coconut recovery and recycling in the DR and the export of finished goods made from coconut husks. Can the experiments in Brazil and Mexico I discussed be successfully duplicated, or perhaps even expanded or improved upon, in the DR? Given the pending DR-CAFTA implementation, isn’t there real potential for such Dominican products in the US market?

      I will be visiting the DR again soon, and in all likelihood will include time on the North Coast. Any chance we might meet? Perhaps have a visit to your facilities? Me avisa si sea posible.

      Atentamente,
      Keith

    4. Emiliano Galigani Says:

      Hi Keith
      the products we are selling are devoted to the agicoltural industry and are mainly substitute for peat (which is not environmentally safe), but we are producing even fibers. My primary export markets are in Europe, mainly Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Spain. I am not allowed to import in DR more than 10% of my production.

      As regards Coconut products, I foresee great potentials. Did you know that coconut oil can be used (very well) as a combustible in diesel engines? Nippon Oil and Toyota are doing deep research on that.

      When we arrived in DR Husks were scrap, now there’s a little market. We have more than 40 employees and 40 more are working for us in the husk collection. No bank or governement helped us. It’s all private initiative.

      Of course you are welcome to visit us and our facilities. Check with me my agenda, because I am often out of DR, as I am italian.

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