Bamboo was featured prominently as an alternative for plastic at the Bo’ao International Plastic Ban Industry Forum, held in Hainan province, China.
30-31 December – At the end of the year, INBAR and several representatives from partner organisations spoke at the Bo’ao International Plastic Ban Industry Forum about bamboo’s role in reducing plastic pollution. In his presentation, Dr. Fu Jinhe, Director of INBAR’s East Africa Regional Office, pointed out the wide range of bamboo products available. Wen Zhenyu, director of the Germany-China Economic and Cultural Exchange Center, talked about the recent plastic restrictions in Europe, and bamboo’s potential as a replacement material. And a number of representatives from China-based bamboo product manufacturers also introduced their products, including Wang Jianzhong, chairman of Rui Bamboo, which produces single-use crockery; Jiang Zuyu, Business Manager of Heqichang, a furniture and flooring producer; and Wang Xingyi, Deputy General Manager of Ningbo Shilin Crafts, which produces everything from bamboo toothbrushes to furniture.
On 31 December, the forum hosted a discussion on ‘Reducing Plastic with Bamboo’, at which presenters discussed the potential for bamboo materials to support a plastic-free world.
Arguably the best demonstration of bamboo’s usefulness was the display of products, which were featured in the forum’s exhibition. INBAR’s stall, which displayed bamboo straws, cutlery, plates, boxes, stirring sticks, paper and cardboard, was visited by a large number of conference guests.
In recent years, growing restrictions on plastic products had opened up new possibilities for bamboo use. In January 2020, China unveiled a plan to reduce single-use plastics within the next few years. The European Union’s Parliament voted in 2019 to ban all single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers by 2021. And around the world, more and more cities and countries are opting to ban microbeads, plastic bottles and bags.
Shortly before the Forum began, on 20 December, Hainan province announced a ban on single-use plastic products. Substitutes will include “materials such as wicker and bamboo.”
If produced without glues and resins, bamboo products can provide a biodegradable and low-emissions alternative to plastic, for both single-use items such as crockery, cups and cutlery, as well as more durable items. This makes them an important part of more circular economic growth, according to a report published by INBAR in 2019.
In recent decades, new production methods have made it easier to convert bamboo into strong, long-lasting products. A 2015 report showed how industrial bamboo products, such as cladding, decking and flooring, had a similar performance but lower carbon footprint than a number of other materials, including PVC, plastic and steel.
Find out more about how bamboo can contribute to the UN’s 12th Sustainable Development Goal: more sustainable consumption and production.
Read the INBAR Policy Synthesis Report, ‘Bamboo and the circular economy’, here.