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About Our Technology

The expression ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ really encapsulates the story behind Malai.  Everything starts with coconuts.  We work alongside Southern India’s coconut farmers and processing units who find themselves with much ‘waste’ coconut water after they’ve removed the harvest of white flesh from inside the mature coconuts. Normally this waste water would be released into the drainage system, but this in itself causes pollution of water and the soil to become acidified. Every day a small coconut processing unit disposes of up to 4000 litres of this water per day.    We rescue this coconut water, place it into vats and sterilise it, resulting in an energy-rich, entirely natural nutrient upon which our bacterial culture can feed. ...

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About Our Story

Malai started as a research project of two people: Susmith - a product designer and maker from Kerala (a province in the South of India);  Zuzana - a material researcher and designer from Slovakia.  They met in Mumbai in 2015, by which time Zuzana had already been working for over three years on bacterial cellulose as a material.  She was keen to explore the potential in India for employing a traditional bacterial-cellulose growth process used in the Philippines, where ‘Nata de Coco’ (the Filipino version of this substance) is an important part of the food industry.     The name of Susmith’s home region can be literally translated as ‘the land of coconuts’, which given the circumstances, was a good...

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Malai Material

Malai – (noun) a newly developed material made from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India. We work with the local farmers and processing units, collecting their waste coconut water (which would otherwise be dumped, causing damage to the soil) and re-purposing it to feed the bacteria’s cellulose production. One small coconut-processing unit can collect 4000 litres of water per day, which we can use to grow 25kg of cellulose.   Malai is a flexible, durable material comparable to leather or paper. It is water resistant and because it contains absolutely no artificial ‘nasties’ it will not cause any allergies, intolerances or illness. It is a completely vegan product...

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