The Waste Biz: Composite Lumber Combines Agave Waste, Recycled Plastic

agave waste can be used to make composite lumber
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Building materials made from waste and/or recycled materials are nothing new: my backyard fence features boards of a composite lumber made from plastic milk jugs and wheat straw.  The choice of materials can make a big difference, though, in terms of durability and weight. A start-up in Jalisco, Mexico, thinks agave bagasse (the fibrous waste left over after squeezing out juice) mixed with waste plastics hits the sweet spot. According to ScienceDaily, the company, Plastinova, believes its composite achieves “a medium point between [wood and aluminum] in terms of physical properties while reducing the cost, as well as recycling organic and inorganic waste.” They envision the material being used for formwork, or for building products like outdoor furnishings. I’m guessing decking or fencing might be good choices, also.

While they’re located in an area where agave is widely grown, the bagasse has traditionally been burned to run boilers.  So, it’ll be interesting to see how the market rules here: will Plastinova be able to pay enough for this material to keep it out of boiler fires, and still price their product competitively? If it works as advertised, I don’t see why not: I know plenty of people love this concept and are willing to pay a premium for materials. In my case, a material I didn’t have to paint was very appealing!

Know of similar materials under development? Tell us about them. Thanks to WasteDive for the tip…

Other news from the waste space:

The blessings – and curses – of a composting mandate: You’d think composting companies would be thrilled at new composting requirements in places like Seattle: Generally, the are: Cedar Grove, a composter in Washington state, has seen its customer base grow by 30% (as has competitor Recology). But it’s also concerned about less-motivated customers not paying attention to their separation of materials, and the contamination that might result…

And speaking of composting….: Commercial real estate tenants are becoming more waste-savvy, so composting facilities may be the next feature that developers want to include in their projects. Development Magazine features two companies that have incorporated composting into their large office settings.

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at