Macadamia nuts, a popular food that people enjoy all over the world, contain shells that often end up as waste. However, there are initiatives aiming to transform these shells into eco-friendly briquettes that drive sustainability and also advance efforts to alleviate poverty in many developing countries.
What Are Macadamia Shell Briquettes
As biomass waste products, macadamia nut shells can serve as a renewable energy source. By drying and pressing the shells into variously sized compact fuel blocks, the resulting briquettes can fuel cooking and heating systems or power boilers.
The Benefits of Macadamia Shell Briquettes
- Environmentally sustainable: As macadamia shells serve no other purpose, their reuse in the form of briquettes reduces the amount of waste in the environment. Also, this prevents deforestation and lowers carbon emissions by providing an alternative to traditional wood-and charcoal-burning methods. The burgeoning industry has seen success in South Africa, the world’s largest macadamia nut producer, with many shells to spare. Shisa Eco-briquettes is just one of the companies working to counteract the more than 2 billion tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions from forest degradation. Additionally, the organization is working to preserve natural resources for future generations with its macadamia shell briquette business.
- Income generation: With new industries, come new opportunities for employment and income for families living in poverty. Michael Duncan of Shisa Eco-briquettes works alongside four fully trained employees and documents the strong relationship between his company and their local community. “We try to uplift them in every way we can,” he said. Eyoh Alder Ventures, a company run by Muthoni Ndung’u in Kenya, also sells macadamia shell briquettes. Its aim is to “reduce hunger and poverty among rural farmers who are mainly women.” Ndung’u is just one of over 200 women empowered by The Charcoal Project, a nonprofit organization that supports “clean burning technologies.”
- Cost-effective and energy-efficient: Macadamia shell briquettes also save money for consumers. The shells are more affordable for people living in poverty. It allows people to save more and allocate their income to other needs. Ziwa Hillington of Ugandan company, Green Bio Energy noted that eco-friendly briquettes can be between 20% and 40% cheaper than other cooking fuels like charcoal. Macadamia shell briquettes also burn just as well as charcoal, in terms of both duration and temperature. This dispels any concerns about cost and energy efficiency.
- Health benefits: In 2022, the World Health Organization reported that almost 2.5 billion people worldwide lacked access to clean cooking material. Women and children in low-income and middle-income countries often succumb to diseases such as cancer, stroke and chronic lung disease. Charcoal and kerosene cooking materials were significant contributors to this crisis. Eco-waste briquettes are healthier alternatives, as the shells do not produce smoke or soot. Healthier families are more likely to be able to stay in education or employment and save what money would otherwise be spent on health care or treatment, and this strengthens both familial and local economies.