Spotted: Bamboo may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Jamaica – but startup Bamboo Bioproducts is hoping to change this. The company is planning to develop large-scale bamboo farms across Jamaica, harvesting the bamboo crop on a managed basis and converting the raw material in a local pulp mill using state-of-the-art technology. In all, Bamboo Bioproducts hopes to transform around 25,000 acres of idle land into sustainable bamboo farmland, creating jobs and inward investment along the way.
The startup is focusing on bamboo both because of its versatility as a material and its sustainability – as well as the fact that it grows well in Jamaica’s climate. Bamboo forests absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store this carbon in their root systems. When the bamboo is cut, the roots remain alive and do not release carbon into the atmosphere in the way tree roots do.
Bamboo emits approximately 35 per cent more oxygen and absorbs 40 per cent more carbon dioxide compared to trees. At the same time, the physical and chemical characteristics of bamboo fibres allow them to be used in a wide variety of tissue and paper products. Bamboo pulp produces a fibre that is both strong and soft and similar to paper grades made from softwood.
Bamboo Bioproducts has stated that it will be using idle lands owned by the Government of Jamaica, the Sugar Company of Jamaica, and other privately-owned lands to “plant, farm, and harvest one million metric tonnes of green bamboo annually.”
Bamboo is increasingly being seen as a sustainable substitute, not just for paper, but for a host of other products as well. A few of the bamboo innovations we have spotted at Springwise include insect-repellent bamboo pyjamas, bamboo toilet roll, and bamboo bicycle handlebars.
Written By: Lisa Magloff