Over the past 12 months EcoPlanet Core Carbon has been working to develop a specialized bamboo charcoal coal for the >US$160 million global shisha industry. Although EcoPlanet Bamboo is not an advocate of any tobacco industry, research shows that this industry continues to grow globally, and the desire and demand for a cleaner burning coal is similarly on the rise, and opportunities for products that can reduce any negative impacts associate with the smoking of the fruit flavored tobacco, an advantage with multiple benefits. Bamboo charcoal processed under a clean, low emission pyrolysis system can deliver such benefits - a coal that burns cleaner, with little to no ash, and more consistently, over a longer period of time.
Following an extensive period of R&D carried out by sister company EPB Laboratories, EcoPlanet Core Carbon made the decision to develop a shisha coal manufacturing line from scratch, with all equipment manufactured specifically for our purposes and under our design. Our aim was to ensure high and consistent quality across the production, while maximizing job creation, and quality of the coals prior to targeting a bamboo feedstock. What we didn't bank on was how challenging the process would be to get just the right grade and size of bamboo charcoal fines, the right binder, the right lighting additive, and the temperature and length at which the coals must be baked. Neither did we understand the complexity of packaging hundreds of thousands of individual coals per day, given the fact that these coals absorb moisture almost immediately, and as a result must be packaged within minutes of emerging from the baking ovens.
With our aim to create the perfect shisha coal, this process ended up taking almost 18 months of trials, product development, testing, and re-testing, until we were fully satisfied that our coals meet the following:
(1) Extremely low ash, resulting in an improved shisha / hookah pipe experience;
(2) Easy lighting;
(3) Consistent burning with an even distribution of heat;
(4) Longer burning - our coals stay lit and burn for up to 1.5 hours.
The EcoPlanet Core Carbon team is currently producing both eucalyptus shisha coals and in smaller volumes bamboo shisha coals, with this volume set to increase over the coming 12-18 months. With bamboo shisha coals utilizing the fines that result from the charcoal pyrolysis process, this particular industry and product line contribute to EcoPlanet Bamboo's aim of being fully integrated, zero waste facilities, with any waste from one process being used as the feedstock for another.
Bamboo coals for the shisha industry have long been under demand, receiving a significant price premium above other coals, including other natural fibers such as coconut husk. However, a secure and consistent supply has been listed as a limiting factor for market uptake of this product. With an average annual growth rate of 6%, despite increasing regulations in parts of Eastern and West Africa, the industry continues to grow.
With the location of our manufacturing facilities on site at the Kowie Bamboo Farm security of a quality feedstock has been overcome, and with a full integrated manufacturing facility now in place, EcoPlanet Bamboo is set to absorb an increasing share of this growing niche market.
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