French Polynesia: biodegradable packaging made from plant fibers

Ayana Champot, the founder of Biobase Tahiti, warmly welcomed us to her house overlooking the town, with a breathtaking view of Moorea, her native island. With her partner Loteve Mendiola, she has set up her own company producing plant fiber packaging and containers made from sugar cane, pineapple leaves, banana and palm trees.

Ayana has found an ingenious way to recycle the organic waste of local farmers: she recovers everything that is destined to go to waste.

The history of Biobase Tahiti

In 2021, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, imports to French Polynesia have slowed down significantly and supplies have diminished considerably, leading to a lack of resources in various economic sectors.

Very sensitive to her environment and ocean pollution, it was at this point that Ayana seized the opportunity to create a 100% ecological product to address the shortage of packaging materials in the island region and become Tahiti’s pioneer of biodegradable packaging.

“Ever since I was a little girl, my parents have always taught me to pick up litter on the beaches. As I grew up, I saw all the havoc pollution could wreak around us and on our “fenua”, our land as we say in Tahitian. That’s why I decided to set up my own eco-friendly plant fiber packaging company. If one of our boxes or bags ends up in the sea, it will feed the fish rather than kill them.” Ayana Champot, Biobase Tahiti.

Family-owned and handcrafted

For the time being, Biobase Tahiti’s packaging is made by hand in Ayana and her husband’s home: from the reception of the fibers to the making of the products. The first step is to grind the plant fibers and mix them with water in a blender. The result is a thick, brown paste that needs to be spread on a sieve to drain off excess water.

Next, the fibrous leaves must be dried for several hours outdoors. Once dry, they can be cut and folded into various shapes to make bags, boxes, business cards and even bottle labels.

Ayana and Loteve are determined to grow their small business. In a few weeks’ time, they will be moving into a larger space, to install more specialized machinery for the production of their product. The acquisition of these machines will enable them to optimize their time and lower their prices to be more competitive.

For the time being, plant fiber packaging is sold to a high-end clientele, including private companies, hotels and special events such as weddings. Ayana plans to diversify their range with products that may be suitable for the food industry.

Ayana and Loteve are an inspiring duo who have persevered and believed in their project, even when many did not:

“I had to do a lot of tests at first with the different fibers to find the perfect combination. A lot of people around me didn’t believe in it, but we persevered and finally found the right formula! Today we’re proud to say that our products meet the highest quality standards on the market, and what’s more, they’re 100% biodegradable”. Ayana Champot, founder of BioBase Tahiti.

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