Growing demand for Malaysia’s pineapples spurs waste valorization efforts

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In Malaysia, researchers across multiple universities are converting the country’s large volume of pineapple waste into products like baby bottle liquid cleansers, meat tenderizers, and even drones. 

“In recent years, we have seen a rising demand for pineapple-based products like tinned pineapple, jam and vinegar,” University Putra Malaysia professor Aizi Nor Mazila Ramli tells The Star. “However, there is an abundance of pineapple waste which is often left to rot or are burned. In the long run, it can lead to greenhouse gases, which profoundly impacts the environment.” 

Malaysia is one of the world’s largest pineapple producers. The industry creates significant waste biomass from leaves, cores, peels, crowns, and stems. 

University Putra Malaysia, meanwhile, has created drones made from pineapple waste.  “Drones for agricultural purposes do not require high-end materials like carbon fiber,” says professor Mohamed Thariq Hameed Sultan. “Pineapple bio-composite material is reinforced with polymer, making it suitable for daily operations.” 

Brands eager for biobased solutions are also actively looking at pineapple waste as a resource. Nike has launched a Happy Pineapple sneaker collection using Pinatex, a leather alternative based on pineapple waste. H&M and Hugo Boss are also using the material in its collections.