Searching for an alternative to costly and resource intensive materials, Mexican company Plastinova has developed a wood substitute from a byproduct of tequila and recycled plastic which it claims is not only renewable, but also stronger than the materials that it hopes to replace.
The process relies on agave bagasse, a fibrous material which is created when the hearts of Agave Tequilana plants are heated to extract their sap for tequila production. To create the material, Plastinova mixes this byproduct with recycled plastic to create blocks of 1.2 meters by 1 meter by 100 millimeters thick, which consist of between 10-35 percent agave fibers.
The process could be an important step in reducing our reliance on wood products and curbing deforestation worldwide. However, one issue in the production of the material is the fact that many tequila manufacturers prefer to keep the agave bagasse, using it instead as a cheap way to power their furnaces. To bypass this issue, Plastinova is already working on a similar material which uses coconut fibers instead - with early tests suggest will offer an even stronger product.