Turning by products into high value exports


Some handicraft products made from banana peels of Thanh Binh cooperative. Photo: TL
Some handicraft products made from banana peels of Thanh Binh cooperative. Photo: TL

Sawdust, pellets, million-dollar pellets

Huynh Quang Thanh, General Director of Hiep Long Woodworking Co., Ltd. said that in the past, the company had to spend a lot of money and effort on the treatment and destruction of by-products such as sawdust and shavings. But since the tablet manufacturing industry has developed, the company not only has no processing costs, but these by-products also bring in revenue for the company.

“These amounts are included in funding for trade union activities, helping the company take better care of employees’ lives,” said Thanh.

According to the General Department of Forestry, in the period from 2016-2020, on average, Vietnam annually collects over 16 million m3 of firewood during the logging process, including branches, tops, and branches.

Also during this period, goods Vietnam uses an average of over 21 million m3 of large timber every year for the production of sawn timber, plywood, peeled boards, laminated boards and furniture products. During the production of these products, 40% of the wood has become by-products such as sawdust, shavings, wood chips, equivalent to about 8.6 million m3.

By-products such as sawdust, shavings, and wood tops are the main raw materials for the production of tablets. Currently, there are about 80 enterprises involved in the production and export of wood pellets nationwide. According to statistics from the Vietnam Wood and Forest Products Association, the production of wood pellets produced has increased from 1.4 million tons in 2016 to 3.2 million tons in 2020.

Wood pellets are mainly produced for export, of which 90% are exported to Korea and Japan. According to statistics of the General Department of Customs, the export value of wood pellets in the 10 months of 2022 has reached 568 million USD, an increase of 83% over the same period in 2021 and 4.3 times the export turnover of pellets of 2016.

This strong growth has made Vietnam the second largest exporter of wood pellets in the world, after the United States.

According to the General Department of Forestry, the room for production and export of pellets is still very large because currently only about 15% of the by-products (firewood, sawdust, shavings, waste wood) are used to produce pellets.

In addition, in recent years, many enterprises have successfully produced pellets from rice husks. Meanwhile, in the two big markets of Vietnam wood pellets, South Korea and Japan, the demand is continuing to increase because these two countries are converting from coal power to clean electricity, including biomass power.

Experts also forecast that the world demand for wood pellets will continue to increase, by about 250% in the next decade, reaching 36 million tons from 14 million tons in 2017, with demand expanding mainly in European countries, Japan and Korea.

Huynh Quang Thanh said that this winter, many European countries also have a great demand for wood pellets for fuel due to fuel shortages due to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This is a great opportunity for Vietnam’s tablet manufacturing and exporting industry.

Banana peels, coffee skins into high value products

Besides the rapid growth of tablet exports, many other agricultural by-products are also being processed and exported by enterprises with positive results. For example, Thanh Binh Association and Consumption of Clean Agricultural Products (Trang Bom District, Dong Nai Province) has succeeded in expanding the value chain of bananas from making effective use of by-products. Specifically, from the discarded banana stalks after harvesting, Ly Minh Hung, Director of Thanh Binh Cooperative made dried banana peel products to be used as raw materials for the production of handicraft products.

From the beginning of 2021, the cooperative’s dried banana peels will begin to be exported to Europe. Currently, these European customers are transferring Hung’s dried banana peel materials to establishments in Vietnam to process handicrafts for export to Europe.

Hung said that from discarded banana trees to dried banana peels of Thanh Binh Cooperative, the return value is not high. But after being manufactured and processed into handicrafts, the value brought back increases a lot.

Therefore, Hung is also cherishing the plan to develop the workforce to make handicrafts from dried banana peels at Thanh Binh Cooperative to increase income for the members.

Currently, in addition to dried banana peels, Hung has also invested in machinery to produce banana fibers. This is the raw material used to make eco-friendly handicrafts such as sandals, bags, and decorative strings.

Currently, this item has been exported to Europe and will be expanded to the market in the near future. According to Hung, the large and beautiful banana sheaths are dried, and the remaining small, ugly ones will be used to produce fibers.

Many other enterprises are also exporting frozen banana leaves to many markets such as the US and South Korea. Nguyen Ngoc Lam, Deputy Director of Tan Gia Thanh Import-Export Company, said that he is preparing to export two containers of banana leaves to serve the Vietnamese community in the US and Korea, whereby the demand for banana leaves often increases sharply.

Le Xuan Cu, Director of Truc Lam Phat Company, said that on average, the company exports about 20-30 tons of frozen banana leaves each month with a value ranging from VND650 million to about VND900 million. The closer to Tet, the more demand for banana leaves in these markets to serve the Vietnamese community in these countries to prepare for the Lunar New Year.

Meanwhile, at Phuc Sinh Company, coffee husks have been used to produce cascara tea with very high value. Phan Minh Thong, General Director of Phuc Sinh Company, said that Phuc Sinh’s cascara tea is made from ripe red arabica coffee pods, belonging to the specialty coffee line grown in Son La. Currently, this product is being exported to Italy and the Middle East for $99/kg.


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