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Sustainable Bamboo Pulp - A Green Alternative for Tissue and Hygiene Products?

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

BBP team in bamboo trial plot jamaica
Some of the bamboo bioproducts team visited one of BBP's bamboo trial plots in Jamaica.

What is Sustainable Bamboo Pulp?

Bamboo pulp is made by processing cultivated bamboo. Bamboo and its fibres are a natural and sustainable material that can be used in traditional tissue and hygiene products. A main sustainability factor, among others, is that bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on the planet. For reference, bamboo plants reach maturity between 3-5 years, as opposed to trees commonly used for pulp, at 15-20 years maturation rate. Since bamboo is a woody grass, it doesn’t need to be replanted after it is cut down. It will simply continue growing again due to its rhizome structures.

Since raw bamboo must be processed into pulp, it's important to ensure the process of conversion to pulp is regulated to mitigate environmental impact. In order to ensure that pulp is produced sustainably, there are environmental regulations to follow as well as socioeconomic components to be aware of. Finally, state-of-the-art technology must be utilised to ensure pulp production efficiently uses valuable resources such as water.

Read on as bamboo bioproducts explains how to ensure bamboo pulp and bamboo pulp mills are sustainable.

What are the Benefits of Using Sustainable Bamboo Pulp in Tissue and Hygiene Products?

Utilising bamboo fibre and pulp has many benefits. As it stands today, bamboo fibres are the only alternative fibres (other than tree-based fibres) that satisfy requirements for tensile strength and softness. These qualities are imperative for developing the best quality end product of pulp that can be used as a green alternative in traditional tissue and hygiene products.

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Supporting a sustainable pulp and paper industry

Ensuring sustainability requires meticulous attention to processes from the beginning to the end of the product lifecycle. From sustainably-managed farms, sustainable employment (supporting the local economy and communities), education and training, all the way to the development of a pulp mill that ensures minimal impact on the environment/community.

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One of the most important components of creating a sustainable end product–bamboo pulp– is how a pulp mill is developed and set up. And of course, pulp mills should be developed according to the best environmental and socioeconomic practices relative to the area the mill is built in.

Some common environmental concerns about pulp mills include:

  1. Dust Pollution: Dust pollution is a concern because emissions during construction and operation of a pulp mill is a possibility. However, when using available technologies in dust filtration greatly reduces the amount of dust released into the surrounding atmosphere. Many bamboo pulp mills also employ tactics such as wetting down the surrounding area to prevent dust particles from traveling in the air. Workers should always be provided with adequate gear to ensure protection against dust.

  2. Noise Pollution: Any construction project will cause noise. That’s why it’s important, when building a pulp mill, to provide protective equipment to workers, first and foremost. Additionally, a pulp mill will ideally be constructed in special zones. Lastly, specific construction dates and times should be mandated to reduce impact from noise.

  3. Water Supply Stress and Chemical Runoff in Rural Communities: When using the newest available technologies to build out a pulp mill, water can be recycled as well as imposing regulations on water usage (for pulp function as well as irrigation for plants) only during specific times. The use of fertilisers and any other chemical-based components should always be regulated by local and federal environmental standards. It is recommended to partner with local agencies to improve the use and processing of water and chemicals. Adding a water treatment plant can allow for up to 85% recovery of chemicals used in the production process. Catchment systems can also be installed to prevent seepage of chemicals into surrounding rivers, ponds, and soil.

Related Article: What are the Benefits of Bamboo Plants? 4. Biodiversity Loss: In order to prevent biodiversity loss, a multifaceted approach works best. This begins with extensively briefing the workers at every phase, from land-clearing to construction kick-off. There are many guidelines to follow, and it’s always best practice to work with an environmental regulatory body such as the ESL or NEPA, in Jamaica, for example. During construction, timelines must work within the framework of natural cycles rather than against the environment's natural cycles. For this reason, construction should not take place during certain times of the year when mating and reproduction cycles are taking place for the species indigenous to the area. Environmental assessments should be frequently conducted to monitor the impact of flora and fauna in the surrounding area of the pulp mill.

Interested in learning more about how bamboo bioproducts are bringing a sustainable bamboo industry to Jamaica? Check us out here.


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