KENYA – Pine Kazi, a Kenyan company, has made headlines for transforming discarded pineapple leaves into eco-friendly textiles, addressing both environmental and economic concerns.

Pineapple farmer James Kinuthia highlighted the shift in perspective, stating, “In the past, we would burn or throw away or replant pineapple suckers.”

However, the scenario changed when the company Pine Kazi entered the scene. Kinuthia explained, “We sell one sucker to them at 15 Kenya shillings each (USD 0.092).”

This innovative approach not only adds an extra revenue stream for farmers like Kinuthia but also generates employment opportunities.

Workers are involved in sorting the leaves and extracting fibers, which are then processed—dried, spun, and woven—to create sustainable textiles.

Pineapple fiber has historically faced challenges due to labor-intensive production processes, leading to its overshadowing by cheaper cotton and synthetic alternatives.

Pine Kazi, however, is capturing global attention as the fashion industry and consumers increasingly prioritize sustainability.

Olivia Awuor, CEO, and co-founder of Pine Kazi highlighted the environmental impact of their initiative. “Annually about 766 million tons of post-harvest pineapple leaves are usually produced, and they are burnt or chemically decomposed. So, by collecting this waste, for every 1,000 tons of waste we collect, we reduce carbon and methane emissions by 0.28 metric tons.”

Kenya’s reliance on “fast fashion” and the significant import of second-hand polyester clothing contribute to environmental challenges. Betterman Simidi, founder of ‘Clean Up Kenya,’ emphasized the importance of sustainable materials in combating this issue.

Simidi stated, “When we see innovations where they are using sustainable materials, like for example pineapple waste, to make fibers that can be used to make clothing. These innovations are important, and we need to encourage them.”

Pine Kazi operates as a social business venture, sourcing labor from local communities and producing eco-friendly fashion products such as shoes and bags.

However, challenges such as the lack of research and development laboratories and insufficient machinery limit large-scale production.

Despite these challenges, Pine Kazi has garnered attention from investors and earned recognition for its commitment to sustainability.

Awuor envisions scaling up the project to other countries facing similar pineapple waste challenges, aspiring to address the issue on a global scale.

The venture represents a significant stride towards a more sustainable and circular fashion industry, with Pine Kazi leading the charge in transforming agricultural waste into valuable resources.

As the world embraces eco-friendly alternatives, the Pine Kazi initiative stands as a beacon of innovation and environmental responsibility in the heart of Kenya.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.