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Professor James Murray-Parkes says bananas and lantana could be used for construction

Bananas and lantana have been highlighted as natural resources that can be harvested to help establish a zero-carbon economy. Professor James Murray-Parkes, a world-class applied physicist based in Newcastle, said using nature in a sustainable way would reduce energy use.

"In Queensland and northern NSW, a lot of bananas are grown. You have a series of hands of bananas. They create a bunch," he said.

"Then there's an entire tree left. They cut that entire tree back to about 900mm to a metre off the ground."

This plant waste could be used to create the building materials of the future.

"When you look at the cellular structure of that banana tree, you'll see it's made of these really cool fibres that have really good tensile strength," he said.

"You can turn that into a material that doesn't need to run a giant blast furnace to be processed, like with steel or aluminium. You can actually make a corrugated roofing product to take over from corrugated steel. And you don't need to burn anything to do it."

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