Distribution of bamboo trees: primary industries

While bamboo trees grow all over the world, there is no world market for bamboo wood for the simple reason that bamboo shoots and trees are not valuable enough to be transported long distances. Therefore, processing plants and industries using bamboo wood as a raw material are generally located very close to bamboo forests.

Fuelled by the rapid economical growth and the improvement of people’s living standards in China, the demand for bamboo products has greatly increased. Below, we have divided the largest product categories into primary and secondary industries.

Primary industries

Construction

Bamboo has long been used as scaffolding and is still used to help build skyscrapers all over Asia. As a rule of thumb, bamboo scaffolding is the preferred choice for building up to 30 storeys, which make up the vast majority of all construction projects. In China, bamboo is used to hold up simple suspension bridges, either by making cables of split bamboo or twisting sufficiently pliable bamboo together. A reference is made to one such bridge dating back to 960 AD. In the Philippines, the Nipa Hut is a fairly typical example of the most basic sort of housing that bamboo is used for; the walls are split and woven bamboo and bamboo slats and poles can be used as supports. In Japanese architecture, bamboo is used primarily as a supplemental and/or decorative element in buildings such as fencing, fountains, grates and gutters.


Furniture

Moso Bamboo is used for a variety of items in the furniture sector, such as chairs, tables, curtains and mats. The Chinese furniture industry has seen a sharp increase in demand over the last ten years as a result of growing urbanisation and government support for residential housing.


Bamboo flooring, plywood, panels and veneer

Bamboo can also be cut and laminated into sheets and planks. This process involves cutting stalks into thin strips, planing them flat, boiling and drying the strips which are then glued, pressed and finished. China's wood flooring industry has witnessed a boom since the early 1990s due to robust urban construction, increased expenditure on home decoration and unrelenting demand from the construction industries in developed nations. Growing awareness of hardwood shortages, the environmental impact of deforestation and forest certification programmes all are contributing to the attractiveness of bamboo as a substitute product in flooring markets. Therefore, bamboo represents one of the fastest-growing segments of the wood flooring industry. Around half of bamboo flooring production in China is exported, mainly to Europe and North America. Wood-based panels are subdivided into three main categories, i.e.: plywood (higher value), particleboard and fibreboard. Veneer is also considered as a wood-based panel though it is mostly used for plywood production rather than direct application, and is a semi-product.


Pulp and paper

Bamboo has been used for centuries to produce paper in China. The earliest surviving examples, written in ink on string-bound bundles of bamboo strips, date back to the fifth century BC during the Warring States period. Bamboo or wooden strips were the standard writing material during the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

The bamboo tree is rich in slender and elongated fibre, which is a suitable raw material for pulp and paper production. At present, China is able to produce smooth offset paper, tracing paper, cap paper, typing paper and special strength industrial paper.

Bamboo based pulp and paper currently accounts for less than 1% of the total industry output. However, the PRC government is actively promoting non-wood paper pulp production from bamboo. During the 11th Five-Year plan (2006-2010), the government is aiming at further increasing bamboo pulp capacity. Third party experts estimate that four tons of bamboo can produce one ton of paperboard and the unit cost for manufacturing one ton of paper pulp from bamboo is 30% lower than that of pine, while the paper quality is almost the same. Relatively younger bamboo and bamboo trees of poor quality, in terms of width and straightness, can be used for pulp and paper production.

Legals | © 2015 Asian Bamboo AG

- deal6 - brand4