Using peanut skins to make plastic—this is the gamble taken by a group of industrial entrepreneurs in Córdoba. The process makes use of the thousands of tonnes of waste from the peanut industry to create an innovative and recyclable product.
Peanut polymers on the rise
The province of Córdoba produces as many composite plastics as it does peanuts. To bring together these two commercial activities, two young industrial designers decided to incorporate peanut skins into polymers, creating the manímero or peanut polymer.
The tegument is the thin red-coloured skin surrounding the peanut that is usually discarded or used for animal feed. In the Córdoba region alone, this by-product accounts for 10,000 tonnes of waste per year, only a very small percentage of which is put to use.
All shapes and sizes
Mixed with synthetic resins, this source of natural fibres enables the production of a material similar to particle board, of varying hardness.
Like these composites, manímero peanut polymer can be shaped in a variety of ways—from injection and rotation moulding to extrusion.
With this project, the designers of the peanut polymer hope to encourage plastics manufacturers to make use of agricultural waste directly available in the region to create an industrial avant-garde.
Looping the production cycle
Composite materials made of polymers and vegetable fibres have a range of applications from construction to furniture making to the manufacture of household and decorative objects.
Carolina Sedran, co-creator of manímero, hopes her product will pave the way for a new generation of eco materials.
“In the future, we hope to create links between peanut producers and the plastics industry in order to encourage new forms of cleaner production. The goal would be that the products coming from one field can enter into the other, looping the production cycle to bring it in line with the principles of sustainable development.”
From peanuts in Argentina to mushrooms in the US—young entrepreneurs are ripe with ideas for new materials that could help to end dependence on petroleum.