What may have been just a pile of waste waiting to decompose becomes a profitable venture for a local coconut farm— all thanks to a DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) technology.

The Thega Coconut Farm (TCF) sought DOST-FPRDI’s assistance in 2018 to convert the farm’s abundant supply of coconut shells into charcoal briquettes.

“Every 45 days, TCF generates about 1,600-2,400 kilos of coconut shells from copra making,” explained Sarahme Corazon B. Esteban of DOST-FPRDI’s Socio-Economics and Marketing Section (SEMS).

“If not given free to nearby households or sold to tinapa (smoked fish) makers at Php3.50 a kilo, these coconut shells are usually left to break down into natural compost. So the company thought of acquiring four drum kilns, manual briquettor, binder-mixer and charcoal crusher from DOST-FPRDI to turn these wastes into something profitable,” Esteban added.

Molded under pressure, charcoal briquette is a compacted mass of fuel material made from a mix of carbonized fines and a binder. It is less messy than ordinary charcoal and easier to handle because it is compact and uniform in size. It also burns more slowly, gives more intense heat per unit volume, and is almost smokeless when burning.

Based on TCF’s experience, four drum kilns each loaded with 100 kg of coconut shells (80%)and some wood trimmings (20%) can generate about 50-80 kg of charcoal briquettes.

TCF’s charcoal briquettes are now sold under the trade name “Super Uling PH®”, with prices ranging from Php 60 to 80 per kilo.

The farm’s operation has been gradually recovering after a temporary halt in its production in July 2019 when a series of typhoons ravaged its main market, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro. It was also adversely affected in 2020 by the covid-19 pandemic. As of writing, TCF is at full operational capacity, with a monthly production volume of 1.5 to 2 tons.

TCF’s Super Uling® being sold at a stall in Ayala Vertis North. (Photos from Super Uling®’s Facebook page)

Presently, the Super Uling® charcoal briquettes are penetrating online shopping sites and some physical stores of local food businesses and households in Puerto Galera and other tourist sites. The briquettes are also being sold at kiosks in Ayala Fairview Terraces and Ayala Vertis North along with other TCF products such as coco ropes, coco peat and coco coir. ### (Apple Jean C. Martin-de Leon & Sarahme Corazon B. Esteban, 02 Feb 2022)