But it also breaks easily, and the same qualities that make it great at keeping food fresh and fresh also make it particularly bad for marine ecosystems.
That’s why a startup based in the Philippines has been working on an affordable alternative that it says is better for the environment and for food producers working on tight profit margins.
Fortuna Cools, founded in 2018 by a pair of Stanford University students, saw an opportunity to use another abundant source of waste in the Philippines: coconut shells.
This durability gives coconut shells some of the same insulating properties as polystyrene, says Julius Bucatora, Fortuna Cools operations manager.
Working with Coco Technologies Corporation, the startup developed technology to turn coconut shells into insulated coolers. The shells are first broken down into fibers, air dried, and then pressed into thick boards that form the lid and sides of the box.
These coconut boxes are a double win, providing additional income for the 30 local coconut growers he works with, says Bucatora. Each box costs about $ 20, according to the company, about two to three times the price of styrofoam coolers, but the company says the box lasts up to a year and will pay for itself in the first three months.
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