When sugar cane is pressed, fibrous remains - so-called bagasse - are produced. What would be waste for some is a natural by-product for us. Using water and natural binders, the bagasse is used to make bagasse dishes and other packaging products.
Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) belongs to the family of sweet grasses and grows in the tropical and subtropical climate zones of our earth. The plants grow about 3 to 6 meters high and their stems have a diameter of 2-4.5 cm. It is exactly here, inside their stalks, that the plant's special feature lies: the sugar (mainly sucrose). This is not only the reason for its name, but also for its popularity and fame in the world: it is the most important supplier of raw materials for the production of (household) sugar. For this purpose the sugar cane plants
Bagasse is the fibrous plant residue that remains in sugar production after the sugar canes have been pressed. They usually consist of 40-60% cellulose, 20-30% hemicelluloses and about 20% lignin. Bagasse is mainly found in countries where a lot of sugar is produced, such as Brazil, China or Thailand.
Although bagasse is a so-called by-product, it remains a waste product for many. In the past, it was primarily used as a fuel for production facilities. Even today, part of the bagasse still ends up in the kilns of the factories. But since people started to recycle materials, bagasse has also been upgraded as a material. Today it is used for the production of building materials, packaging materials and disposable tableware. And in the paper industry too, sugar cane fibres are already partly replacing paper products made of wood, such as napkins, toilet paper and cardboard.
The sugar cane plant is a very fast growing resource for which no forests have to be cut down. As a by-product of sugar production, bagasse does not require any additional cultivable land and therefore has no impact on our forests. On the contrary: it is even a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative for paper production, because much less energy is used to produce bagasse paper than wood fibres. Products made from sugar cane end up in the garbage after use, sometimes even in the wild. However, thanks to their biodegradability (certified according to EN13432 or US ASTM), the products decompose relatively quickly and turn into
But as already mentioned, bagasse is not always used to make disposable products. Factories often use bagasse as fuel. However, this process is much more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels, as fossil fuels not only produce CO2 but also toxic pollutants such as carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Burning bagasse, on the other hand, is CO2 neutral, as only as much CO2 is released as the plants have absorbed during their growth.