Coir

Opportunities/Prospects of the Industry

  • A significant prospect for coir is the growing global concern to address ecological problems through the use of natural materials for environmental protection. Coir nets or geotextiles and bio-logs or fascines, two of the most important products of coir today both here and abroad, have been proven to be effective materials in controlling steep and road slopes erosion and for riverbank protection in technologically advanced countries.  Geotextiles are coir-based matting materials placed in sloping lands and embankments to hold soil and permit vegetative growth. It helps in erosion control and soil productivity conservation. Bio-logs or fascines are tubular structures of coir mats or nets filled with dust, peat or coir resembling large rolls or gabions.
  • For the past years, China has become a major market for coir and coir manufactures.  The Philippines, however, was and is able to serve only a small fraction of the requirements of the Chinese market. According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), China imported 200,000 mt of coir fiber in 2009 and this is projected to increase by 20 percent annually.  China’s demand for mattresses, of which coir is an essential component in its production, is 100 million pieces yearly.  In addition, Chinese demand for geotextiles is pegged at 270,000 square kilometers since its desert areas are expanding at 1.27 percent annually due to sandstorms.
  • Locally, coir geotextiles have gained acceptance as alternative material for soil erosion control and road rehabilitation.  Some of the important local projects which made use of geotextiles include the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, the rehabilitation of damaged slopes in Southern Leyte, the construction of cross drain structures in Baguio-Bontoc Road (Halsema), the embankment of the Zamboanga slope and road for protection from erosion and a number of other projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and by the private sector. The DPWH found geotextiles more advantageous than other traditional materials such as concrete construction materials for erosion control for the following reasons: (1) the overall cost of coir as erosion control material was lesser by two-thirds; (2) it is comparable in durability as long as the soil is well stabilized prior to its installation; and (3) coir is eco-friendly and biodegradable and it promotes vegetation growth as it traps topsoil and keeps its nutrients intact.
  • Potential users of geotextiles, aside from the DPWH are mining companies for soil erosion control and site rehabilitation projects and property developers and landscaping contractors for green architecture and landscaping projects.
  • Coir dust/peat, meanwhile, has gained more attention from local gardeners and plant enthusiasts as they now use this material as growing medium and soil conditioner.  The agriculture sector, with vast tracts of land planted to plantation and horticultural crops, thus, presents a big potential market for coir dust/peat as organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.    
  • The Office of the President also issued Memorandum Circular No. 25 which could help boost local demand for coir.  The circular directed all national and local government agencies, bureaus and other instrumentalities including agricultural institutions and councils to use coco peat or coir dust and coconut fiber material for soil conditioning and erosion control in government projects nationwide.
  • In a position paper prepared by the Philippine Coco Coir Exporters Association (PHILCOIR), it identified the production of tufted coir mat and rubberized coir as the most financially feasible downstream products that the Philippine coir industry could venture into in terms of potential demand for these products not only in the domestic but even in the export market.  This would also result in higher value for Philippine coir, not to mention the jobs and livelihood opportunities that these would generate in the rural areas.
  • The Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has already received the Registration Certificate from the Bureau of Patents of the Intellectual Property Philippines (IPP) to its utility model of a Decorticating Machine for Separating Coco Coir, Peat and Dust from coconut husk.  It also developed a manual machine for coco coir biolog production.  The machine compresses coir fibers while encapsulating it in a geotextile net, the so-called coir fiber biologs.  The machine measures 3000 mm x 103 mm x 502 mm and is capable of producing 30 units of coco fiber biologs per day.
  • The Philippines, according to a report of the Philippine Coconut Authority, has a potential annual production capacity of 732,750 mt of coir and 1.710 million metric tons of coco peat from the country’s large tract of coconut plantations.  With these resource potentials, the country has the capacity to readily meet the demand, local and foreign, for coir and coir products.
  • The uses of coir for various industrial applications need to be explored. A FAO report indicated that coir has a potential as a natural fiber composite for trucks and in automotive parts as roof liners, floor carpets, seat back trims, engine compartment insulation, package trays, luggage compartments, textile exterior, wheel arc liner, rear and side wall covers and driver cabin liner.  Experiments showed that the advantages of coir over other natural materials are its being low cost and light weight.  Moreover, coir has properties suitable for acoustic insulation, has no abrasive wear, is non-skin irritant and ecologically friendly.