Abstract paper production in the world is


Until now, most of the pulp and
paper production in the world is made from wood plant fibers. Due to the
increasing demand in paper industries and shortage of wood origin material in
paper-based industries, non-wood fibers have been explored to find the best
alternative raw material to produce paper. One of the non-wood fibers that have
potential of being raw material in paper-based industries is banana (Musa Sapientum) due to its similar characteristic
with wood fiber. Banana fiber has wide range of uses in handicraft industries to
make mat, rope and many more. Other than banana fiber, cogon grass (Imperata Cylindrica) is also an
agricultural waste which is capable to be raw material in paper-based
industries and hence preventing the environmental problems. Therefore, this
study aim to determine the suitability of banana pseudo-stem fiber and cogon
grass fiber for packaging paper productions. The method used to make pulp in
this study is chemcical pulping using alkali. In conclusion, recent study had
proved that banana fiber and cogon grass could be a good potential fiber
alternative in paper-based industries in the future. Sample 5 from 80%
banana-cogon grass mix fibres showed that it has the highest water absorbency
and nearly similar with the reference paper. Sample 5 also showed that it has
the highest tensile strength when compared to other samples which can withstand
force until 208.044N. The highest elasticity of paper was showed by sample 6
which contain 100% of banana fibre which has the elasticity of 6.603kN/m2.
From thermal analysis of paper that was testing by using Differential Scanning
Calorimeter, sample 6 showed that it has the highest melting point and hence it
reached the minimum
requirement to make a good paper which at 81.73 °C. From functional group
analysis of paper that was testing by using Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR),
all of the sample showed that they have nearly similar peak and functional
group of packaging paper.

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Keywords: Banana trunk fiber; cogon
grass; packaging paper; alternative raw material.


1. Introduction

Paper is one of the greatest inventions that play a huge role in our
daily live, its uses are not only limited for writing but also packaging,
printing and wrapping material. In the past, the major resources for making
pulp and paper were from non-woody plant such as cereal straw, reeds and
esparto grass (Waham & Rahman, 2015). Papermaking from non woody is
thought to have originated in China and Ts’ai Lun was the first person that
came up with the idea to make paper using rags and mulberry plant as the raw
material (Carr, 2017). However, the insufficient supply of the traditional raw material
such as cotton and rags in the 19th century became a good reason to
replace the material by using wood to make paper (Aripin, 2014).


Nowadays, most
of the pulp and paper production in the world is made from wood plant fibres.
However, the environmental concern is now increasing over the year to meet the
demand of paper-based product (Kirwan, 2012). As a result, huge area of rainforests was destroyed every year to
meet the supply and demands of wood fibres (Taylor & County, 2012). Eventhough there
are many reasons for deforestation but most of them were related to fulfil the
demands for paper-based products (Covington, 2013). Hence, alternative raw materials are been introduced to replace the
used of wood as raw materials.


Banana is an
important fruit crop that belongs to the Musaceae family. Banana pseudostem is capable of being used as the raw material for pulp
and paper making due to the fact that it is fast growing plant and yields high
biomass after harvesting (Hussain & Tarar,
The banana plant has a cycle of nine to ten months to bear fruits, after that
the remaining parts of the plant is disposed of as an agricultural waste (Preethi,
Balakrishna, & Murthy, 2013). All types of banana plants are known
to provide fibres abundantly  especially
the trunk part (pseudo-stem). (Vigneswaran et al., 2015) stated that about 1.5
million tons of dry banana fibres could be produces from the outer sheath of
pseudostem. Most of banana plantations do not utilize the banana after
harvesting the banana fruit, but just burning them. These can resulting
abundant agricultural which may be considerable as a potential to substitute
virgin wood fibre to produce pulp and paper (Ramdhonee &
Jeetah, 2017). The study also stated that the usage of banana plant in
the paper making industries will yield economic and environmental bonuses. The sustainable production of banana paper shall contribute to
reduce the stress on depleting natural forest resources (Goswami, Mahale, &
Anita, 2015).


Another raw material
used in the study is Cogon grass (Imperata cylindrical) which also known as japgrass, bladygrass,
speargrass, alang-alang and lalang-lalang (Chris, 2017). Cogon grass is one of the plant that presence abundance and fast
growing grass that is widely found in Malaysia (Kassim, et al., 2016). It has short cycle
growth compared to wood plants (Aripin, 2014). They are mostly
used as fuel to create fire and nothing more (Hashim, 2014). Sometimes this undesirably grass may cause problems to plantation areas (James, Estrada, &
Flory, 2015). Due to the abundance, short growth cycle and lack of commercial
applications of cogon grass, it can be recommended as an alternative fibre in
the pulp and paper industries and hence decreasing the demand for deforestation


Non-wood plant
fibres that are currently used in the pulp and paper industry are divided into three
groups which are natural growing plant, non-wood crops and agricultural
residues depends on the availability of the plant fibres (Goswami,
Mahale, & Anita, 2015). Paper made
from agricultural residues will reduce the uses on wood plant from natural
forest resources. Table 1 shows the properties of various non-wood fibres in
paper industries. Agricultural residues have higher cellulose and hemicellulose
but lower in lignin content than others. (Aripin, 2014) stated that the chemical
and physical properties of non-wood fibres are important because it can affect
the mechanical properties of the paper as shown in Table 1 (Aripin, 2014).







Mechanical properties







Tear index,

index, kPa.m2/g

Agricultural residue

Banana stem









Rice straw









Wheat straw









Annual plant










Switch grass









Non wood

Palmyra plant fruit









Date palm rachis









Date palm leaves









Table 1: Chemical,
physical and mechanical properties of non-wood fibres (Aripin, 2014)



Therefore the
aim for the present study is to investigate the potential of banana stem as
alternative fibres for packaging paper. Apart from that, the effect of paper by
combining banana stem and cogon grass was studied at different mass ratio at the
same condition. Lastly the paper produced will be evaluated in terms of water
absorbency, tensile strength, melting point and functional group.

2. Methodology

2.1.0 Materials


The sample of
banana (Musa Sapientum) trunk waste was collected from Batu Pahat, Johor.
Dried cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica)
was collected at Jalan Purnama, Persiaran Seri Alam. For the paper frame
making, A4 size (210 × 297 mm) frame, sieving net,
superglue (cyanoacrylates) and
cellophane tape were act as moulding and deckle.


2.1.1 Preparation of raw material


The outer layer
of banana trunk which is pseudo-stem sheath was stripped from each layer into
individual sheath. The samples were air-dried at ambient temperature for 72
hour (Daud, Hatta, &
Mohd, 2014)The fibres were further dried in an oven at temperature 110°C for 24
hour to make sure there were no water particles inside the samples. All fibres
(musa acuminate, Imperata cylindrical)
were cut in sizes of about 2-5cm with cutter (Ramdhonee & Jeetah, 2017).The fibres
were washed and cleaned with distilled water to removes any impurities from the
materials such as adhered soils and grit. The fibres and lignin in the raw
material were separated by treatments with alkali which partly remove the
lignin and other non-cellulose components from the fibres. Chemical
pre-treatment involved cooking the finely chopped and over-dried Musa
Acuminata bits with 0.1% Sodium Hydroxide, NaOH  (Ramdhonee &
Jeetah, 2017).
The fibres were cook with 1000ml volume of water and
concentration of 0.1% Sodium Hydroxide solution in a beaker (Pyrex, Schott AG 1893) at 250°C-300°C for about 1-2 hours until material
becomes very soft. After cooling, the fibres were filtered by using a strainer.
The spent cooking liquor containing lignin was allowed to flow through the
strainer. After that, the cooked fibres were thoroughly washed with water for
30 minutes to remove excess NaOH and were filtered again. The fibres were
weight out according to the mass ratio banana-cogon grass as shown in Table 2.


2.1.2 Preparation of paper


The washed pulp from
banana and cogon grass fibre was blended in presence of water in food blender
machine (Panasonic, MX-900M) until it
formed a pulpy consistency (Dwight, 2015). Banana fibres and cogon grass mix mass ratios are shown in Table 2.1. Mixed pulp was poured into
tub filled with 4 liter of water. The mixed pulp from the tub was lifted and
deposited in the frame. The pulp in the frame was spread evenly. Then, the
frame was removed from the tub and water was allowed to drain. The drained pulp
was remove from the frame and was then couching on the cloth. The wet paper was
then blotted softly with a sponge before removing the cloth. Semi-dry pulp was
transfer to a board and was dry in the oven at 90°C for 9 hours.



(ratio Banana fibres to Cogon

Banana fibres, g

Cogon grass ,g

Sample 1



Sample 2



Sample 3



Sample 4



Sample 5



Sample 6



Table 2:  Samples of paper according to mass ratio of
Banana fibres to cogon grass

2.2 Characteristics Study of Packaging Paper

Water Absorption Analysis


Water absorption analysis is
the liquid sorption rate of bibulous paper using gravimetric principles. The
absorbency is measured by dropping a known volume of liquid onto the sample
surface and time required for the liquid to be absorbed is recorded in seconds (Goswami, Mahale,
& Anita, 2015). A dropper was used to drop water on the surface of the samples. The
test was run for all of the samples according Table 2 and a reference paper (70



Tensile Strength Analysis


Tensile strength is the
maximum force required to break a paper strip of a given width under prescribed
laboratory conditions up to the point of rupture. The tensile test is measured
by the change in length while adding weight until the part begins to stretch
and finally breaks. The tensile properties in terms of the force at peak and at
break were determined using Universal Testing Machine (UTM). UTM is a machine that can calculate the tensile and compressive
strength of a material, stretching from both ends by using force or load. UTM
type AG-100KNXplus STD is used in this study. Before testing, the thickness of
the paper is being measured using Vernier Calliper, having a reading of 1.25 mm
equal for all samples and the width of the paper must not exceed the 40 mm mark
to get the most accurate result. The length of the paper is depending on the
user as long as both end of the paper is longer than the gap between and the
paper is been clamp on the movable crosshead. The UTM machine can determine a
lot of data such as stress, strain, load and displacement. In this case, the
stress over strain and load over displacement is the most suitable data to
obtain the tensile strength of the paper. The paper testing, 0.01 mm/s of
velocity displacement is being use during the tensile experiment and maintained
for all samples.

The following
equations (1),(2) and (3) were calculated to calculate the elasticity of paper,


Stress      =                                                                                                                                                            (1)


Strain      =                                                                                                                                      (2)


Elasticity =                                                                                                                                                        (3)



2.2.2 Thermal Analysis


Scanning Calorimeter, DSC can determine various characteristic of the sample
such as glass transition, melting point and crystallization temperature by
measuring the heat flow. The difference of melting point determines variations
in material composition in the sample paper. Perkin Elmer-6000 type of DSC is
used in this study. The melting point data is essential to determine whether
the sample can withstand a lot of heat and from that it can also determine the
quality of the sample. The testing was carried out with six different samples according
to Table 2. Specifically was cut and weight to ±5.5 mg before placed in a zero
hermatic aluminum pan with the lid sealed. The pan that contains sample paper
then placed inside the DSC machine together with the reference’s paper pan.
Next, the test chamber is being heated at a temperature from 27°C to 200°C with
the rate of 20°C/min. This process is maintained for all samples and the
results receive from the DSC machine can determine the quality and heat flow of
the paper.


2.2.3 Functional Groups
Analysis, FTIR

FTIR analysis is used to identify the functional group that
present in the sample paper based on the interpretation of an IR spectrum. The
peaks in the functional group region will determine the specific kind of bonds.
Different functional groups produce bond absorptions at different
locations and transmittance on the IR spectrum. Hence
it will characterize the chemical composition of the sample papers. The testing
is carried out with samples obtained from Table 2. The samples were not
subjected to any preparative treatment, and were analysed under ambient
conditions, no attempt being made to control the temperature or humidity.
Absorbance spectra were acquired using Bruker, VERTEX-700 FTIR spectrometer.
The spectra were recorded in the range of 4000 – 650 cm-1.

3. Result
and Discussion

3.1 Water Absorption Analysis


Most of the
paper has its own absorbency rate and its specific amount of aqueous that it
can absorb. The absorbency test was conducted to observe which sample has the
greatest quality of paper as shown in Figure 1. The shorter the time taken for
the paper to absorb water,the greater the water absorption ability. Figure 1
shows that Sample 6 has the fastest time to absorb water which means that it
has the greatest water absorption ability. This is because banana fibre has the
highest ability to absorb water due the presence of hydroxyl groups in the
chemical structure of cellulose in the fibre. In the other hand, Sample 1 shows
the longest time taken to completely absorb a droplet of water as it not
consisted any of banana fibre. From this result, we can conclude that sample 1
is the most suitable in making packaging paper as it have the lowest reading of
water absorption rate. This is important in determining the packing application
because packaging paper such as food packaging should not easily absorb water
since it can affect the properties of paper. The water absorption of paper can
cause decreasing in mechanical properties such as tensile strength and tear
strength (Siracusa, 2012). A conclusion can be
made that banana trunk fibre has the greatest moisture absorbency ability while
cogon grass fibre have the greatest water resistance ability.