Everyone is wondering about various interesting facts about bamboo and its place in a sustainable world. If you have ever looked for eco-friendly products, you have almost definitely come across stuff made from bamboo. There’s all kind of things made from bamboo from containers to glasses, bamboo clothing & textiles to jewelry. First, let’s understand more about this material and see if bamboo can actually save the world.
Why Bamboo is Sustainable?
Bamboo is actually a type of grass and not a tree and it grows incredibly quickly. The bamboo plants are huge and you could barely see where the tops end. There are over 1000 species of bamboo. Some of the species can be eaten while others are used for heavy construction. The plant can grow to a meter in a day that means in only 48 hours it can actually be taller than most of us. It also means that it can reach a height of 30 meters in just 2 months, that’s the height of a six-story building.
Bamboo is ready to use after about 3-5 years. So, compared to wood, that already is a lot more efficient and sustainable. Additionally, it requires very little water to grow and it can be grown without any pesticides. It is also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so it doesn’t really need to be treated with anything. It produces 35% more oxygen than the same area of trees.
Now, some bamboo species can only be grown in certain parts of the world, but they can be grown much closer together, so they need less space. There are also generally very little waste in bamboo harvesting and turning it into products. It has been said that harvesting bamboo cannot lead to deforestation as it can regrow as quickly as we can consume it. It really is a wonderful material because it’s not only incredibly sustainable but also extremely versatile.
Bamboo – The High-Profit Making Sustainable Industry of Future
Bamboo is recognized as a sustainable yield with great socio-economic returns. In the last 10-15 years we have seen rapid growth in the range of commercial bamboo products such as furniture, flooring, building construction, bamboo fabric, activated carbon, and bamboo extracts. The rise of bamboo as a wood substitute has concurred with a growing demand for wood. Bamboo’s appearance, strength, and hardness combined with its rapid growth cycle and capacity for sustainable harvesting make it an increasingly attractive wood substitute.
At present, Bamboo is used (mostly) as a substitute for wood. That was the most obvious solution because blades can be harvested after a maximum of 5 years and the rhizomes automatically grow new stalks. While an Oak tree needs a minimum of about 80 years.
The market outlook for bamboo is strong. These developments in bamboo markets have been creating several opportunities for rural development and poverty reduction. When talking about paper, bamboo supplies 10% of the world’s paper pulp, and per metric ton of paper costs over US$ 700 approximately. It can be estimated that a plantation of giant bamboo with 200 bamboo clumps per hectare can give an annual yield of about 2000 poles with biomass of as much as 50 metric tons of bamboo for the manufacture of paper pulp. At a cost of US$ 700, it gives a potential income of US$ 14000 per hectare a year. Wonderful, isn’t it?
Bamboo shoots are a nutritious vegetable. The export of canned bamboo shoots is a thriving industry in Indonesia and Thailand. Species suitable for edible shoot production are grown on a plantation scale. These plantations offer edible bamboo shoots and developed poles for building and they can produce an income of over US$ 50 million per year. Bamboo charcoal and activated carbon have great market acceptance and are in high demand. In some parts of Africa, bamboo charcoal is manufactured by the cottage industry. Bamboo clothing such as Bamboo T-shirts and undergarments are one of the trendiest options in sustainable fashion and they are also high in demand.
Bamboo and its place in Market
A study estimates that at present, bamboo markets have a combined annual value of approximately US$ 7 billion. Traditional products account for almost 95% of this value. Emerging markets have tremendous growth potential and can rival traditional bamboo markets in the course of time. The bamboo market is divided into “Traditional Market” and “Emerging Market”. Traditional markets have their grip and are in high demand such as handicrafts, blinds, and bamboo shoots with profitable opportunities. Emerging bamboo markets are slowly making their way and they include flooring, building products, and laminated furniture, etc.
These represent the largest growth opportunities for bamboo and its place in the market. As the world is being more aware of sustainability, strong international demand has produced a growing bamboo sector. Supply complications and a rise in demand for bamboo products are creating a progressive market position for bamboo. Overall scenarios for the growth of the bamboo sector look strong.