Bamboo has come to be known as the quintessential “rapidly renewable” raw material. Though often considered a wood (due to its’ replacement of “timber” in many construction applications), it is in fact part of the grass family. Bamboo has phenomenal growth rate potential, with some species growing at a rate of up to 6” a day, with maximum height of up 100’, reached in just four to six months. Not only does it grow like a weed, it requires almost no outside influence to flourish, assuming it is being grown in optimal climatic conditions for the specific species. Though there are over 1250 such species, the majority of them seem to have at least some commercial value, such as foodstuff, decorations, etc., while others could effectively displace timber in an entire product and manufacturing segment historically controlled by “wood”. All in all, the value of bamboo as a raw material seems to increase on a daily level, as timber becomes scarcer and more testing is being done to show the benefits and intrinsic value bamboo provides from a structural, strength, and weight standpoint.
Main Bamboo product categories:
- Bamboo Flooring
- Bamboo Textiles / Clothing
- Bamboo Housewares
- Bamboo Cabinetry, Furniture and Lumber
- Bamboo Food
- Bamboo Sporting Goods
Current Bamboo Use:
Bamboo is probably the most versatile natural raw material used in the production of products. It is being used, or being tested for us, in almost every application where “wood” has historically been used, and this is from decorative and construction items to household utensils. A thriving food industry is also taking hold, as new manufacturing methodologies are being employed to broaden its’ applicable uses for ingestion. Bamboo textile and clothing use is also starting to ramp up its’ development, as some of the anti-microbial properties of bamboo are being realized for more technical applications and pursuits.
Bamboo Attributes/ Benefits:
- Growth – bamboo grows much faster than any other species of wood, and can be grown in steep areas where little else can thrive. The root system of bamboo facilitates quick regeneration once it is harvested, and due to its’ inherent durability, it can withstand tremendous hardship.
- Pesticide-free – bamboo typically does not need fertilization and/or the application of pesticides to spur its’ growth.
- Strength – bamboo is extremely strong due to its’ cellular structure and makeup. Bamboo, at its’ core, is made of thin, parallel filaments that extend the entire length of the bamboo stalk. Due to this parallel nature, the bamboo filaments have tremendous strength, with a greater strength to weight ratio than hardened steel.
- Use Flexibility – the beauty of bamboo as a raw material is that there are literally thousands of ways to use it. It is akin to “wood” in the sense that anything you can make with wood, you can make with bamboo, but it also has a long lineage of use as a food product, and more recently is excelling in textile and clothing applications. You can eat it, you can eat with it, you can eat on it, you can wear it, and you can live under it. There is literally not much you can’t do with bamboo if you so desire.
- Waste stream – bamboo as a material provides a completely closed loop system. Every part of the plant can be used, and is practical to do so.
- Carbon Sequestration – if water is the life-blood of the earth, bamboo ought to be considered its’ lungs. The carbon sequestration properties of bamboo far exceeds that of any other species , due partly to its’ abundance, but also to its’ fast growth. With the increased use of bamboo as a material, more carbon is trapped (more oxygen made), effectively helping clean the air of pollution and toxins.
Future Bamboo Use:
The future of bamboo is as bright as its’ past. There is a literally not a day goes by, when we are not contacted by someone else interested in assessing the use of bamboo in their products. The beauty of the material, beyond its’ shear applicable uses is the fact that it can be processed, reprocessed, added with this, topped with that, with the net result of making something unique and desirable. The market will dictate what is viable and what is not, but as a raw material, there is not one with a much better future than bamboo.