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From Bamboo to paper

Stories
24Jul

The journey of bamboo to a pulp paper factory in Chishui.

From carvings on cave walls to etchings on stone and calligraphy on artistic sheets, writing has always been part of human history. Bamboo, closely intertwined with the Chinese culture, has been used to make good quality paper. With the constant innovation in the bamboo sector, this incredible plant can be used to make approximately 10,000 different kinds of products. China has seen a rapid growth in the bamboo industry and leads the world markets in both development and industry size. Based on data from the year 2015 the bamboo industry in China is valued at around 30 billion USD. However this is set to get stronger with added support of the government and more optimal utilisation of bamboo. Chishui is one of the areas that could be a core contributor to the bamboo sector development.

Located in the south western part of China in Guizhou province, the lofty hills of this region are beautifully adorned with swathes of bamboo forests. Due to the availability of bamboo in this area there is clear potential for massive bamboo sector growth.

Among the varied number of enterprises involved with bamboo in Chishui is the Chitianhua Bamboo Paper Pulp Co. Ltd, which could very well be the largest unit of its kind in the world. From the farms of Chishui the bamboo journeys to the chips mill and then on to the paper pulp factory where it comes out as a semi-finished paper.

Managed by Mr. Lin Yansheng along with several other deputy managers, this paper pulp factory has seen an enormous growth over the last two years. Set up with an impressive lineup of machinery and tools, the factory is spread over many acres of land. After its overhaul and optimisation of equipment, the factory was producing 201 thousand tons of bamboo pulp, up from 170 thousand tons. It consumed 800 thousand tons of bamboo chips in 2015 and with the continual streamlining of operations the unit aims at increasing bamboo pulp production by 10-15 per cent by the end of 2016.

A large area within the factory premises has been set aside for storing the mountains of chips that are brought over from the chip mills in Chishui. From here the chips are sorted and sent over the factory which then further processes it into bamboo pulp. This pulp is then converted into a semi-finished paper product. Half of the bamboo chips utilised by the factory come from Chishui and other counties that are located nearby. In order to improve capacity and control the quality of the bamboo chips, the unit is planning to launch a subsidiary that will deal with the setup of approximately 20,000 thousand hectares of bamboo forest. This bamboo forest will be run with the support of local farmers from Chishui. The primary idea is to not only to establish a reliable source for raw bamboos but also form a value chain that powers the local economy.

Employing approximately 500 people the paper factory is set to add another 60-70 more personnel to its ranks by the end of this year. Although the paper factory produces an enormous amount of finished product it is aiming for greater production since the unit still has capacity to create even more bamboo paper. There are other plans that are in the offing – the factory has already begun exploring the possibilities of creating other downstream products from the semi-finished bamboo paper. One such product is tissue made from bamboo paper. This will create additional 300-400 jobs for people within the region.

With the optimisation of the factory and its processes a number for aspects are affected. The most prominent result of the capacity increase is the positive economic impact on the farmers of bamboo in this region. Continually innovating to maximise results, within the next three years a very healthy value chain could be built up in Chishui through the bamboo paper pulp factory which would in turn help create jobs, support the livelihood and strengthen the bamboo sector.