BANANA Stem fibres.
With the advancement of technology, we are now able to turn the extremely long, fine fibres extracted from soft inner layers of the banana stem plant into gorgeous, natural silk-grade textiles used for fashion and interior products.
Currently only 10% of this "waste" fibre is being used, farmers must pay costly fees to have it regularly removed, and often burnt thus adding additional negative impact to air pollution.
"Different layers of the stem yield fibres for specific uses: the outer layer’s fibres are generally used for table cloths while the third layer makes the finest, silkiest fabric, suitable for kimonos and saris. Many Nepalese rugs are made from dried fibres of the banana plant that are hand-knotted into silk-like rugs.+ * Ethical Fashion Forum
The stalk of a banana plant contains fibrous strands that can be processed into anything from paper to kimono-grade silk. STSC therefore decided to name our textiles "Sylk" to create a distinction between animal silk and natural plant sylk.
STSC sources our banana stem fibres from the Southern Eastern State of Tamil Nadu, India's largest producer of banana's. Our commitment to supporting the farmers is also through the "Wealth to Waste Project" by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University's ECO GREEN UNIT.
"Fabric from bananas, from the stalk of a banana plant to be more precise, has been utilized by cultures in Japan and Southeast Asia since the 13th century. The fibre from the stalk of banana plants is incredibly durable and is actually a waste product of the bananas grown for the food industry.
Spun into silk yarns, woven into fabrics for interior decoration and even used as paper and packaging materials, the fibrous stalks of this large, fruit-bearing plant offer numerous possibilities as a natural and sustainable textile and fiber material."
The banana plant has long been a source of fiber for high quality textiles. In Japan, banana cultivation for clothing and household use dates back to at least the 13th century.
For example, the outermost fibers of the shoots are the coarsest, and are suitable for tablecloths, while the softest innermost fibers are desirable for kimono and kamishimo. This traditional Japanese cloth-making process requires many steps, all performed by hand.
In a Nepalese system the trunk is harvested instead, and small pieces are subjected to a softening process, mechanical fiber extraction, natural bleaching and drying. After that, the fibers are sent to the Kathmandu Valley for use in rugs with a silk-like texture.
These banana fiber rugs are woven by traditional Nepalese hand-knotting methods, and are sold RugMark certified.
All parts of a banana plant can be used for both edible purposes and biomass creation.
However, currently only 10% of banana wastage is used for producing fibers. Since India is the largest producer of banana, the availability of raw material is high. Banana fiber is obtained from the outer, middle and inner part of the stem of the plant.
Chemical, biological or mechanical methods are used to extract fibers, but the chemical method is usually not preferred as it is not eco-friendly. (and not used by STSC or EMBROID).
The sheath from the banana stem is first peeled off, the inner sheaths are flattened and fibers are stripped off either manually or through fibre extraction machines.
These fibers have suitable properties like low density, appropriate stiffness, high disposability and renewability.
Banana fibers are classified as hard fibers, because they contain the whole vascular bundle structure. Their surface is more lignified and coarser than any other fiber.
Banana fibers are used handicrafts, in the production of yarns, ropes, backing papers, tea bags and shoes. Recent innovation has enabled banana fiber in the textile industry as well.
DURABILITY OF BANANA FIBRE
"What was earlier regarded as agricultural waste and a nuisance for farmers is now a raw material for good quality silk grade fibre yarn. ....Also known as musa fibre, it is one of the strongest natural fibres.
This biodegradable natural fibre from the bark of the banana plant is so durable that if we make currency notes from it, the notes can be used for more than a hundred years. It can be used to make silk grade saris and just as it can be used in car tyres.
"Banana-fibre cloth (which) comes in differing weights and thicknesses based on what part of the banana stem the fibre was taken from. The innermost sheaths are where the softest fibres are obtained, and the thicker and sturdier fibres come from the outer sheaths."
"Tearing strength is one of the important aspects of a finished fabric. It refers to a rupturing of the fabric along a line from thread to thread. Tearing strength of fabric mainly depends on fibre, yarn and fabric characteristics along with mechanical and chemical finishing treatments given to the fabric."
Testing was carried out on 1/8/2017 by the Textile Testing Laboratory, Ministry of Textiles, India, to the strength of Banana Sylk fibres naturally dyed black Weight 155 GSM.
Results according to the international test method ASTM D 1421 show:
Weftwise strength 424
Warpwise strength 373