Large amounts of avocado seeds and skins are sent to landfill every year as a by-product of manufacturing avocado oil. An AUT School of Science’s PhD student, Rahul Permal, is working to convert this avocado waste into compostable packaging.
Approximately 22,600 tonnes of avocadoes were grown in New Zealand during the 2017/2018 avocado season and the skin and seed alone represented 5,900 tonnes of waste. Rahul is developing a compostable plastic made from avocado skins and seeds without the use of harsh chemicals. Rahul explained that “avocado skins and seeds are largely insoluble in water. Due to this insoluble characteristic, solvents such as sodium hydroxide and ammonia are needed to break down the insoluble cellulose in the avocado waste. However, these solvents are highly toxic and hazardous for the environment.”
Rahul is developing an environmentally friendly method to dissolve the avocado skin and seed into a mouldable form that can be used to create compostable utensils, plates and containers. Through AUT’s research and operations, we are supporting the move to the circular economy and being single-use plastic free.