PAPER AND PULP
The demand for paper products has skyrocketed over the last 20 years. In the U.S. alone, per capita consumption of paper and paperboard exceeds 800 pounds each year which places enormous strain on forests that take decades to recover. The increasing popularity of bamboo paper may help to decrease reliance on wood pulp in papermaking and offer some relief to the world’s remaining woodlands and forests. The Chinese have been making paper from bamboo for over 1,500 years but recent demand has grown considerably as consumers look for environmentally friendly products from renewable resources. Responding to the demand, paper manufacturers are introducing new bamboo paper products to the market that are comparable in strength, brightness, and printability to paper made from wood pulp.
The main advantages of purchasing bamboo paper are as follows:
• Bamboo is a quickly renewable resource. Bamboo is the single fastest growing species of plant on the planet with some species growing more than a meter a day. Bamboo reaches maturity in 3 to 5 years or less and when it is cut, the stem is left in the soil to sprout a new shoot and start the growing process again.
• Bamboo thrives in depleted soil. In environmentally stressed areas where rainforests have been clear-cut and burned, bamboo is one of the few plants that can grow easily and begin the process of returning nutrients to the soil.
• Bamboo paper is recyclable. Just like paper made from wood pulp, bamboo paper can be recycled to lessen our impact on the environment and further reduce our reliance on trees.
• Bamboo helps to reduce soil erosion. The rhizomes (roots) of the bamboo plant branch out from the stalk which helps to secure soil from erosion and retain precious soil moisture
• Bamboo provides jobs and economic development. In economically depressed areas where unemployment and lack of income foster civic unrest, bamboo offers farmers a viable cash crop and jobs in bamboo paper mills.
As more and more consumers look for everyday products that are environmentally responsible, the emergence of bamboo paper products on the world’s markets offers us a chance to save our remaining hardwood forests and reduce the catastrophic environmental effects of clear-cutting and deforestation. The impact of bamboo paper on the worldwide paper industry is still being determined but the largest manufacturers are taking notice of this trend in the marketplace and introducing innovative uses for bamboo paper every day