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Across China: Booming bamboo business powers China's green growth

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-06-05 16:49
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NANCHANG -- In the offices of a bamboo product manufacturer in Tonggu county in East China's Jiangxi province, it is interesting to find that the keyboards, mice, pens and calculators used by the staff are all made of bamboo.

"These unique bamboo products are developed by our company, and we have achieved making bamboo the substitute for plastic in some electronic products," said Feng Xumou, chairman of the Jiangxi Bamboo Technology Development Co Ltd, which has specialized in bamboo products manufacturing for 25 years.

Tonggu county has a forest coverage rate of 88.04 percent and boasts 460,000 mu (about 30,667 hectares) of lush green bamboo forests, making it one of the main bamboo production areas in east China.

"The rich bamboo resources in the county have provided favorable conditions for the development of our company," said Feng, adding that the company has developed more than 30 bamboo products including tables, tableware, speakers and skis, among other daily supplies.

"It is not easy to produce a keyboard of which the plastic section is all substituted with bamboo, but we persevered. We all know that bamboo is an environmentally-friendly and renewable material with tremendous development potential," said Feng.

It took Feng's company nine months to develop its first bamboo keyboard with a bamboo frame and plastic keystrokes, and another two years to develop the all-bamboo keyboard. In 2012, the keyboard gained traction at home and abroad, and a total of about 5 million units have been sold over the years.

"Data shows that over 400 grams of plastic is needed to make a keyboard, so the bamboo keyboards we produced over these years have prevented the use of almost 2,000 tonnes of plastic," said Feng.

China has the most abundant bamboo resources in the world and its bamboo forest area, accumulation, output, and exports are among the top in the world.

In 2022, the Chinese government and the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization jointly launched the Bamboo as a Substitute for Plastic Initiative to encourage countries to reduce plastic pollution and address climate change.

So far, the bamboo products produced by Feng's company have been exported to over 20 countries and regions, with an average annual export value of about $10 million.

The company has also provided employment opportunities for over 90 local villagers and boosted the development of local bamboo sales and charcoal production factories.

"We optimize the use of bamboo and send the surplus material, such as bamboo powder, to the local charcoal factories for producing bamboo charcoal, a kind of environmentally-friendly material," said Feng.

Planting over 50 mu of bamboo, 46-year-old local villager Jiang Zhaochun cuts and sells bamboo for a living.

"As long as you get the right timing and method, cutting bamboo will not cause damage to the bamboo forest," said Jiang. "On the contrary, cutting the matured bamboo is a way of protecting the forest because if not cut down, they would just die and absorb the nutrients of the younger ones."

Not far from Feng's company, Jiangxi Jinzhu Industrial Co Ltd, specializing in producing bamboo toothpicks, is currently operating at full speed. "Our bamboo products have been exported to 35 countries and regions, with an annual output value of over 40 million yuan," said Tu Qiang, deputy general manager of the company, adding that he is optimistic about the prospects of bamboo products.

Now home to 43 bamboo processing companies, Tonggu county has formed a relatively complete bamboo industrial chain and introduced many supporting measures.

"With the raising of people's environmental awareness, the concept of making bamboo the substitute for plastic has gradually deepened. More related projects are expected to be introduced," said Lyu Jingguo, a senior engineer at the forestry bureau of Tonggu county.

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