Is Bamboo The Timber Of The 21st Century?
With large scale deforestation occurring at an alarming rate along with the associated rise in global climate change, the situation around the world is tense. Increasing concerns over food security, water availability and an ever increasing pressure on the planet for finite resources is pushing entrepreneurs, businesses and governments to develop innovative solutions to address these growing concerns.
Timber forms an essential raw resource for various industries which produce items that as humans we have come to utilise and rely on daily. But our forests cannot sustain the increase in demand for these products driven by exploding populations and the rise of a global middle class with increased spending power.
A postgraduate from Yale University and an expert in forestry and forestry related climate change, Camille Rebelo came up with a unique model of making bamboo the timber of the 21st century. She, along with serial entrepreneur and businessman Troy Wiseman launched EcoPlanet Bamboo in 2010, to industrialise this plant to produce a sustainable, deforestation free fibre that can provide an alternative resource for our daily needs. They urge the population to be aware that the majority of products that we use daily, from toilet paper to packaging to some of our clothing, still come from the unsustainable harvesting of old growth natural forests, and invite the new generation of consumer to switch to sustainability certified bamboo as an alternative fiber, with the simple motive of putting an end to deforestation.
The great thing about bamboo is that it can be harvested sustainably without killing the plant and therefore can potentially provide an endless source of raw material that can be used to make a wide range of products, more than anyone could imagine.
Since Camille Rebelo and Troy Wiseman are trying their best to turn bamboo into the “tree free”, “deforestation free” timber of the 21st century with their initiative EcoPlanet Bamboo, let me brief you on what things can be made from bamboo under this new concept of bamboo fiber as an industrialized and realistic fiber. Here goes the list-
For Manufacturing Paper Products
Every year a large number of trees are cut down to manufacture paper products. Some of these trees that we use for toilet paper take more than 100 years to grow. The right species of bamboo can be used to produce toilet paper, tissues, cleaning paper as well writing paper, cards and different types of packaging.
Disposable Coffee Cups
Although also a paper product this is amazing – the world throws away billions of cups from coffee shops every year. Bamboo fiber can be used to grow all of these, making them a sustainable renewable product.
For Manufacturing Diapers
Disposable diapers can be made with bamboo. And instead of taking years and years to regrow like the current source of trees, the same bamboo plant will keep producing raw fiber each and every year, so long as it is managed correctly!
For Manufacturing Textiles
Bamboo can not only replace rayon and viscose which come from trees (yes our clothes come from trees!) but also cotton. Bamboo fiber has a unique antibacterial property and it uses way less pesticides, fertilizers and land to produce each ton of raw material. Bamboo can be used for clothes, sheets, towels and more!
For High End Construction Products
Bamboo flooring has been gaining popularity over the past years, but recently technology has become available for bamboo to be made into products that can replace timber. These include structural products, door and window frames, outdoor decking and more! If the bamboo is certified these bamboo products are sustainable, renewable and are beautiful as well.
Timber is used on a large scale to produce energy using everything from pellets to charcoal to biofuels. But, did you know bamboo can be used in the same way – its fiber has similar properties and an almost identical calorific value. Plus it’s renewable!
There are hundreds of other uses but just switching out wood for those above and replacing it with bamboo that has been grown only on degraded land, is certified as sustainable AND is renewable, would have a huge impact on the planet!
Positive Economic Impacts
With more research on the potential for bamboo to be used in major markets and for everyday products, the economic impact of the same is rising. This in turn is leading to the emergence of more new and cleaner technologies, innovative solutions and the turning of a full industrial wheel. From the traditional use of bamboo only for handicrafts, baskets and flooring, the last few decades have witnessed the production of pulp for paper and textiles, veneers, plywood, composites and many 2nd and 3rd generation products. The 21st century has resulted in the development of bamboo as an entirely new and high tech industry.
Bamboo can offer a large number of advantages and as more and more research is being conducted, the way to grow and manage the plant, its benefits and the true potential of its products are coming to the forefront. One must admit that EcoPlanet Bamboo is doing a great job in having laid the framework for there to be a global resource of sustainable and certified bamboo resource, and for urging the world to replace timber from natural forests with the environmentally friendly option of their bamboo. If you are still using some wood products, toilet paper from trees or drinking coffee in disposable cups, start thinking of replacing it with products made from EcoPlanet’s Bamboo and help Camille Rebelo and Troy Wiseman in their initiative of turning bamboo as the timber of the 21st century.