According to British media, China has more than 6 million hectares of green bamboo forest, accounting for one-fifth of the world's bamboo forest area. China produces about 40 billion pairs of disposable bamboo chopsticks each year for three meals a day. Even in the most prosperous areas of Hong Kong, high-rise buildings under construction often use bamboo instead of steel scaffolding.
According to the British "Economist" website reported on January 18th, Martin Tan, an expert in Hong Kong, said that despite its significance and quantity, bamboo is still a "forgotten plant in China." In order to demonstrate the potential of bamboo, he would invite visitors to drink a can of bamboo juice, hand in a bamboo business card, and ask them to sit on a bamboo armchair beside them.
Complex work began after the bamboo was cut. Mr. Tan said that the processing of bamboo products is still a primitive labor-intensive small industry. The processing plant is located in the bamboo forest with a meagre profit. Toothpicks, matchsticks, incense sticks, bamboo mats and bamboo baskets are still the main products made from this plant. In Zhuzhou, a hometown of bamboo in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, about 95% of bamboo handmade products are exported.
However, the prospects for this material are improving. One reason is environmental awareness. Chinese companies account for 90% of the international export market for bamboo flooring. With the gradual use of green products by Western consumers, the appeal of such flooring is increasing. The production of bamboo flooring in 2016 was 116 million square meters. International Bamboo and Vine Organization, an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Beijing, said that this kind of renewable low-carbon material that replaces plastic and wood is currently "one of China's attempts to play a leading role in environmental protection." Bamboo can release large amounts of oxygen into the air, and its ability to absorb carbon dioxide is four times that of some trees. Since 2012, Chinese companies have offset carbon emissions by buying bamboo credits.
The report said that in a forum in 2017, a private enterprise from Zhejiang Province was invited to exhibit the earthquake-resistant outer layer of storm drains and bullet trains made of bamboo. China has provided farmers with a large number of state subsidies. Since 1981, the annual output value of the bamboo industry has increased 500-fold to 32 billion US dollars. China plans to increase this figure to 48 billion U.S. dollars within three years, and resolve 10 million jobs.
Technology is changing everything. A series of new products began to use bamboo, including plywood and plastic. The bamboo powder produced in the process was mainly used as a factory fuel, and now it is made into a new material by adding rosin. The remaining plastic and bamboo powder recovered from air-conditioning and trunk factories can be used to make outdoor bamboo flooring.
Bamboo-made composites can be used for everything from railway sleepers to well covers. Both BMW and Lexus car manufacturers are considering using this material instead of plastic and wood for interior trim. A German company wants to use this material to make the ship's deck. A Canadian space technology company added this material to its production telescope.
The report said that other bamboo products industry is facing more difficult conditions. Because of potential safety and fire hazards, bamboo scaffolding has been eliminated in many places in mainland China.