OCSB & PI Transform Bio-Products from Cane Leaves

Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB), along with Plastic Institute, realizing usefulness of sugar cane leaves and tops, has recently organized an event, “Burning Reduction, Added-Value Creation to Transform Bio-products to Cane Leaves”. With an aim to disseminate knowledge to the interested public, the event promoted added values of sugar cane leaves and tops, mobilized problem solution on harvesting sugar cane by burning it and upgraded cane and sugar industries, all of which will result in development of entrepreneurs and farmers alike. Also, a “bio-industrial promotion center” will be established to encourage Thailand’s bio-industries to become the future bio hub.

Leftovers from cane harvesting include cane leaves and tops in particular. A ton of sugar cane already harvested will have over 170 kilograms. Formerly, the leftovers had to be burnt as they were not used any further, thus causing such air pollution as the PM 2.5 smog. Consequently, the OCSB thought about how to benefit from cane leaves and tops to solve the problem on burning them and add their values. The idea focuses on transforming cane leaves and tops to a prototype product. At present, the leaves and tops were used to make corridor bricks and fuel which were already displayed and demonstrated at the event to interested people. Moreover, other products were introduced publicly, such as bioplastic glasses made of ethanol-based sugar extraction and medicines extracted from sugar cane wax to lower cholesterol levels.

The OCSB’s Deputy Secretary General Mr. Kitikorn Suksom reported that “As the OCSB has already restructured all systems of cane and sugar industries to upgrade their development, biotechnology was introduced as a tool to mobilize the industries, emphasizing on “target products”, namely bioplastics, biochemistry and biopharmacy, along with environmentally-friendly operation that aims to implement measures to solve cane burning problems holistically. To enhance competitiveness of entrepreneurs for processed cane and sugar business and transform cane and sugar to bioproducts, this process corresponds to the government’s policy which proposed to mobilize bio-economy and promote Thailand as a regional bio hub. Besides having organized above-mentioned, the OCSB is planning to establish a “bio-industrial promotion center”. It will serve as an initial step for bio-industrial development inception and upgrading the sugar and cane industries.”

Mr. Weera Khwanlertjit, the Director of the Plastic Institute, stated that the Institute had a mission to improve both plastic and continuous industries. Developing bioindustries is considered a sustainable one thanks to a conceptual idea on highlighting the national strength in diverse agriculture like cane and sugar to complement industrial sectors. Doing so will add more values to agricultural products and raw materials. This includes processing cane and sugar until they become bioplastics or extracting cane in different industries, such as food, medicine and cosmetics. Also, agricultural leftovers can be developed into a valuable product later.

In 2020, the program, Bioeconomy: Non-Food, was launched to enhance competitiveness of sugar and cane processing entrepreneurs. It highlighted application of technology and innovations for sustainable development to add values to cane and sugar products by transforming them into other bioproducts. Typically, manufacturing the products requires raw materials from alternative agricultural sources and petroleum ones. However, biodiversity is being used in Thailand to develop a product that serves market needs. One of the activities under the program is raising awareness and promoting use of bioproducts. Doing so will support more use of the products and create understanding about cane burning reduction while adding values to agricultural leftovers.