A new, local agro-industrial waste was valorized by chemical treatment and tested for its ability to remove cationic dye from aqueous solution. Tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) leaves refuse, a solid waste from bidi industry which caused disposal problem, was studied as a biosorbent. Raw tendu waste (TLR), along with sulfuric acid carbonized tendu waste (TLR-CM) and tendu waste treated with dilute sulfuric acid (TLR-2N) were utilized as sorbent for uptake of crystal violet from aqueous solutions. Adsorption studies were carried out at various dye concentrations and contact times. It followed the pseudo-second-order kinetics and followed the Langmuir adsorption isotherm. Interestingly, milder acid treatment of the tendu waste enhanced biosorption, whereas drastic acid carbonization of tendu waste resulted in reduced adsorption of dye. The maximum adsorption capacities for crystal violet for TLR-2N, TLR and TLR-CM are 67.57, 42.92 and 22.47 mg/g respectively. Commercial activated carbon had maximum adsorption capacity for crystal violet of 151.52 mg/g. Thus a renewable solid waste with mild acid treatment can offer a cost effective alternative to activated carbon.