The versatility of banana peels

KUORI by designer Sarah Harbarth is a versatile biodegradable material that can be used to make spectacle frames, shoe soles, watch bands and even 3D printing. 

Swiss designer Sarah Harbarth, who has always been concerned about environmental issues, saw potential in banana peels and turned them into KUORI, a sustainable material under the banner of the circular economy, which aims to combat waste by using food scraps to offer a new alternative capable of combating over-exploitation of the environment and its resources. 

Sarah tells us in an interview:
“Because the banana is so much a part of our daily lives, we often forget that we still import it from distant regions and that this requires a lot of energy. 1/3 of the banana is the peel. I asked myself the question, why not use it all?”,  

The versatility of banana peels

So she was able to create four different products, completely compostable and made from banana peels. The first was a filament for 3D printers with which you can create anything you want. The product even has greater stability than normal PLA, a material usually used for this type of printing.

With KUORI, you can also produce sustainable shoe soles, solving the problem of microplastics that come off when you walk down the street. By replacing the plastic usually used with banana peels, not only are you not altering the soil you walk on, but you could even be feeding it.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Faced with the harmful and cruel practice of producing articles by exploiting animals, again using banana peels, the designer has also designed a sustainable, vegan and recyclable leather alternative. 

To show off the qualities of this product she has created watch straps, but her invention can easily be exploited in various articles, for cruelty free fashion.

Finally, to look at the beauty of the world with a sustainable approach while always aiming at critical consumption, the Swiss designer has also created beautiful spectacle frames made 100% from banana peels.

 Sarah, highlighting the many solutions we can have with banana peels:

“The areas of application can be even more diverse than these. One area I haven’t dealt with is packaging design or fabric design, for example,”

The idea came about during an exchange at the University of the Arts in Berlin. The course was about “the seemingly impossible”: inventing new materials. The designer decided to reuse organic waste to produce a completely natural product, and chose the banana in particular because of the long journey it takes to reach our tables and which we should pay more attention to.

At the moment KUORI is not yet commercialised, Harbarth is looking for funding to start a research and development project. In the coming weeks, a website will be up and running where donations can be made that will allow this great green and innovative idea to grow, setting the circular economy in motion.

The banana is one of the most popular fruits in the world and its consumption is increasing every year. According to FAO data, its world production has increased from 69 million tonnes in 2000 – 2002 to 116 million tonnes in 2017 – 2019. But what happens to all the banana peels we throw away after eating them? With KUORI this waste is transformed into a resource, for the good of all, for the good of the Earth.


Written by
Erika Menvrillo


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