Conference PaperPDF Available

Bamboo Use in Construction Industry: How Sustainable is it?

Authors:
  • Cape Coast Technical University
  • Pan African University for Life and Earth Sciences Institute
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
Bamboo Use in Construction Industry: How Sustainable
is it?
Akwada, D. R.1, Akinlabi, E.T.2
Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, University of
Johannesburg, South Africa
Abstract
Bamboo sustainability as a construction material is paramount since it is a promising natural composite material.
The application of bamboo in the construction industry in recent times has attracted increasing interest for its
promising applications in sustainable construction works. The assessment of the sustainability of any material of
value such as the bamboo is very critical as it will provide insight into the availability and the continuous use of
such material. However, despite much literature on its essential characteristics, bamboo’s sustainability has not
been critically analysed. This study aims to examine, through a review of the literature, how sustainable bamboo
could be used in the construction industry. The work outlines the sustainable techniques that, when applied,
would help in the unfolding of bamboo’s potential as a sustainable construction material. Improved quality of
bamboo resources and the development of efficient, sustainable management practices, harvesting techniques,
processing and preservation techniques were found to be useful for bamboo development and sustenance.
Sustainability could be achieved through an appropriate management system for its propagation and harvesting,
as well as appropriate industrial processing and preservation techniques. This work would provide insights to
researchers, bamboo growers and industries that use bamboo as their raw material across the globe for the
adoption of a suitable technology for its sustainability. The study concludes that bamboo could be a sustainable
material for use in construction works and other industrial uses.
Keywords: bamboo, construction industry, preservation, sustainability
1. Doctoral Candidate; Mechanical Engineering, University of Johannesburg,
rich.akwada@gmail.com
2. Head; Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, University of Johannesburg,
etakinlabi.uj.ac.za
1. Introduction
Due to the arising awareness of sustainable development internationally, sustainability has
become an ultimate goal for worldwide industries to pursue according to (WCED, 1987, Finkbeiner et
al. 2010, Klöpffer et al. 2009, Klöpffer, 2003). The recent shift of research and application into the
natural composites is evident to the development of sustainable materials. According to Finkbeiner et
al. (2008) and Schau et al. (2012), the continuously increasing consumption patterns, resulting in a
rising pressure on global resources, and visible through the various financial, food and climate crises
around the world are caused by human activities. On the supply side, the use of fast-growing
sustainably produced renewable materials such as bamboo can help to meet this increasing demand.
The assessment of sustainability on the product level is an important issue but still a challenge stated
by (Schau et al. 2012). The term sustainability does not only involve the environmental pillar but the
economic and social ones, as defined by the Brundtland Commission (WCED, 1987). To measure the
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
sustainability of products and services, constructing of an integrated evaluating methodology is
inevitable according to (Schau et al. 2012, (Hunkeler et al. 2008 and Swarr et al. 2011 and Benoît et
al. 2009).
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an ISO-standardised method (Schau et al. 2012, Iso 14040,
2006 and Iso 14044, 2006 ). It is adopted and widely used to estimate the potential effects of products
and services on the environment through their life cycle as supported (Schau et al. 2012, Guinée et al.
2002 and Klöpffer et al. 2009). LCA is an efficient and practised methodology in probing environmental
burden in the process of product and service levels, and also in preventing burden shifting from
different life-cycle phases. Life Cycle Cost (LCC) is another experimenting method which has been
adopted for assessment of the economic dimension of sustainability to builds further on the traditional
life cycle costing which have been used since the 1930s (Schau et al. 2012 and Lichtenvort et al.
2008). LCA is still relatively a new tool in the sustainability assessment (Hunkeler et al. 2008, Schau et
al. 2012).
In the contest of this study regarding how sustainable bamboo is used as construction material,
one can state that bamboo is a functional graded composite plant with a short regenerative growth
lifecycle making it sustainable material for construction (Gratani et al. 2008 and Van der Lugt et al.
2009). It can be harvested in three to five years, as opposed to ten to fifty years for most softwoods
and hardwoods. It grows in almost any climate, and it replaces itself very quickly (Gratani et al. 2008).
Bamboo has been in existence for over thousands of years with multiples of application in all fields of
structural engineering but has not suffered any destruction across the globe. It is a far more
environmentally safe and sustainable option than other modern construction materials like corrugated
metal, artificial plaster, and chemically treated wood and brick (Van der Lugt et al. 2009). It requires
minimal energy for processing before use; it leaves no environmental footprint afterwards, it is
affordable and readily available (Yu et al. 2011 and Van der Lugt et al. 2009). According to Waite
(2009) and Wooldridge (2012), bamboo can be used to construct houses, bridges, furniture,
scaffolding, flooring, electrical insulators, automobile parts, flooring, as laminated plybamboo and as
reinforcement in matrix composites. Hence, its sustainability needs to be addressed as fundamental
issues to prevent its depletion from the forest as the case of hard and softwoods.
The primary focus of the study is to use LCA to evaluate bamboo’s sustainable as a
construction material from its planting stage through harvesting, processing, preservation and to its
final decomposition. The study would look at the appropriate sustainable method to adopt for a high
yield variety, appropriate harvesting techniques, processing techniques and preservation methods for
bamboo application in construction works. An appropriate application of these technological
processes would protect the bamboo and its products, and hence its sustainability in the construction
industry would be attained.
2 How can Bamboo be Sustainable as a Construction Material?
The construction industry in recent years has identified the potentials of bamboo in the
construction of varieties of constructional works. However, the big question now is that how
sustainable is this bamboo material? The high patronage in the construction industry for its usage is
on the increase. For bamboo to remain a sustainable construction material for the industry, its
sustainability needs to be taken with seriousness from the primary level which comprises of advance
technological application of cultivation through harvesting, components process and finally its
preservation until its decomposition stage in the life cycle assessment process.
2.1 Bamboo Propagation and Sustainability
Bamboo is abundantly found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot tropical regions and
primarily grows on sandy topsoil to loamy mud soils. They can be found mostly in Asia, Africa,
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
America (Gratani et al. 2008). It belongs to the Gramineae/Procea family, and therefore it is not
classified as a tree, but as a grass according to (American Bamboo Society, 2014). There are more
than 60 genera divided into about 1,500 species of bamboo and is a composite material, consisting of
long and parallel cellulose fibres embedded in a ligneous matrix (Kushwaha et al. 2013 and
Chattopadhyay et al. 2011). According to Ahmad et al. (2005) bamboo is an anisotropic material with
mechanical properties in the three (3) cardinal directions varying in the longitudinal, radial and
transverse directions.
Bamboo grows very faster than softwood and hardwood as well as with high mechanical
properties advantages comparatively. Some bamboo species may reach their final length of between
20 to 30 m tall in a couple of weeks with a speed of 50 cm a day during the growing season while
other species have been observed to surge skyward as fast as 8 inches in one-day. Bamboo is divided
into two portions, the rhizomes and culms. The rhizome is the underground part of the stem and is
mostly sympodial or, to a much lesser degree, monopodial. This study is concerned with the top
section which is the stem, called the culm as shown in figure1 and 2, accordingly. The top section of the
bamboo tree contains most of the woody material. It is without any bark and has a hard, smooth outer
skin due to the presence of silica (American Bamboo Society, 2014). The stem which is also called the
culm is made of branch arrangement, the sheath, leaves, flowering, fruits and seeds. Bamboo species
are distinguishable from one another by the differences of their essential topographies, the culm
growth style, being either strictly erect, erect with pendulous tips, ascending, arched or clambering.
According to work by American Bamboo Society stated that culms of some bamboo species take
between 2 to 6 years for maturity. Findings show that maturity of bamboo during cultivation depends
on the species and it acquires its hardwood like characteristics (i.e. hardness, strength, stability) as
compared to the growing years of hardwood which takes (50-100) years to mature. (American
Bamboo Society, 2002, 2014, Cleaver, 1993). The bamboo plant consumes a significant amount of
CO2 out of the atmosphere by providing oxygen in return (Vogtländer et al. 2014 and Vogtländer,
2014).
Bamboo sustainability cannot only depend on the reserves in the forest without replacement
when harvested. Sustainable and advanced cultivation methods need to be implemented in most
countries in which bamboo grows as practice in most Asian countries where bamboo cultivation is a
profession. Bamboo cultivation has not been given much attention as it is in China, Indian and many
other countries in Asia. Some decades past bamboo harvesters solely depend on the forest for the
supply of bamboo culm with few from farmlands for structural applications. Vogtländer (2014) has
outlined some basic techniques which would enhance the cultivation approach of bamboo globally.
Findings show, that when one bamboo is planted it consists of several culms of bamboo as new
shoots grow from the mature plant every year (Van der Lugt et al. 2009). It is suggested that with a
proper management of the bamboo resource, the harvesting cycle usually is three years. The growth
rate of bamboo is more rapid than any other plant on the planet. If appropriate propagation techniques
and high yield species are propagated across the globe, about 40-50% of bamboo culms in the
plantations and the forest would be sustainably harvested every year without decreasing the size of the
plantations in the farmland and the forest. Bamboo unlike most trees does not die off after harvesting but
rather by harvesting the mature culms, the yield and quality of the plantation somewhat increase (Van
der Lugt et al. 2009 and Vogtländer et al. 2010). Similarly, bamboo has extensive root network which
makes it a potential plant for reforestation on eroded and degraded lands because it can restore
vegetation and water tables on degraded lands.
Bamboo can be managed as an agricultural plant with an annual harvesting scheme, and no
deforestation would take place, and this technological approach of its cultivation promotes its
sustainability (Van der Lugt et al. 2009 and Vogtländer et al. 2010).
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
Figure1. Bamboo plantation Growth (Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
Figure 2: Bamboo culm after harvest and dried (Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
2.2 Harvesting Technique for Bamboo
The appropriate method of harvesting bamboo in the plantation or forest plays a significant role in
its sustainable development. The harvesting technique of bamboo is significant in its sustenance both
in the farmland and the forest according to a finding by (Vogtländer et al. 2010). In a research finding
by (Vogtländer et al. 2010), simple basic harvesting methods for bamboo culms or stems have been
realised. However, in the case of wild bamboos in the forest, a satisfactory and systematic harvesting
technique has not been well established (Wang 1995, Vogtländer et al. 2010). Bamboos in the forest
reserves mostly are harvest with no consideration to the young shoots as many young shoots get
destroyed after harvesting the matured stems or culms. Also due to the high initial moisture content in
the bamboo, culms gets easily split up during harvesting when no appropriate technique is applied
(Wang 1995, Vogtländer et al. 2010). The ages of the bamboos in the reserve forests is uncertainty to
most of the harvesters, and as a result of this challenge, the processing and utilisation of the will be
faced with numerous problems. In a study by (Wang et al.1987, Van der Lugt et al. 2009 and
Vogtländer et al. 2010), they outline some primary factors that need to be diligently followed to
enhance the harvesting technique of Bamboo. They also emphasis on considering of ages of the culm
to be harvested to get the desired quality properties of the end-products.
Various harvesting methods have been reported.
Also, in other findings of (Van der Lugt, 2014 and Vogtländer et al. 2010), shown that if the
appropriate harvesting techniques need be practised as in China, the bamboo forest reserves need to
be regulated by the appropriate department. The Chines Bamboo Forestry system is regulated by the
Forestry Bureau of China to safeguard its overexploitation for a sustainable yield. Hence, adopting this
system from China and with a diligent practice would enhance its global sustainability. For instance, in
China, the harvesting of bamboo is based on periodic surveys of total bamboo coverage and a farmer
is given a “Forestry Logging Permit” for the responsible exploitation of a bamboo plot for a specified
period. The farmer harvests a part of the culms and sells them to processing industries that used them
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
to produce strips for specific products like plybamboo, flooring, panels, curtains, chopsticks, and so on.
These companies utilise 100% of the bamboo resource in their final application as stated by
(Vogtländer et al. 2010).
The bamboo sector in Ghana can adopt China’s techniques of harvesting of bamboo by
educating farmers who go into its cultivation and those who harvest the lots in the forest reserves to
help prevent indiscriminate harvesting methods to help prevent deforestation and its depletion of this
promising plant from the earth (Van der Lugt, 2014). Sustainable harvesting approach of bamboo
would enhance the constant supply of bamboo, and this help prevents deforestation and serves as
income generation for those who go into its trade. Research finding has shown that this method of
harvesting of the bamboo facilitates the growth of the bamboo plant because as the mature culms are
being harvested, there is a stimulation for the bamboo plant to regenerate even faster (Van der Lugt,
2014 and Vogtländer et al. 2010). If these techniques of harvesting bamboo coupled with other
modern advance and appropriate cultivation methods were adopted across the globe, sustainability of
bamboo for the construction industry would be attained as it is supplied as a raw material throughout
the year (Schau et al. 2012 and Klöpffer et al. 2009).
2.3 Processing and Preservation Technique
Processing of bamboo and its preservation in the form of varieties of products ranging from
construction of buildings, furniture’s, ply bamboo, textiles, pulp and papers, and so on, contributes
immensely to its sustainability (Vogtländer, 2011). These processes leave no footprint of
environmental effects as the appropriate methods are followed diligently. The implementation of
(LCA) on the processes is a methodology which is accepted to evaluate the effects of a product,
services as well as a material over its full life cycle, from the extraction of the resource until the end
phase of demolition or recycling according to (Vogtländer, 2011). The LCA is an ISO 14040
methodology which is an international standardisation use measure the effects of products and
services on the environmental impact in several categories, including depletion, air quality (dust,
smog), toxicity and global warming potential (GWP) (Vogtländer et al. 2014). The environmental
impact caused by products can be measured in a single number, for example, expressed in eco-costs.
The increasing attention regarding GWP’s is often assessed separately for its track. In assessing, all
the greenhouse gas emissions during the life cycle of products are measured in kg CO2 equivalent
according to a study by (Vogtländer et al. 2014 and Vogtländer, 2014).
The finding shows that when LCA, including carbon footprint ISO 14040 and 14044 standards
was conducted on the bamboo products, the LCA shows that bamboo is a significant absorber of CO2
‘from the air and released a subsequently massive amount of O2 in return through the photosynthesis
process during bamboos growth until harvesting.
In this study, the researcher discovered that even after the bamboo had been harvested, the
CO2 remains locked in the bamboo stem or culm until when the material is discarded or burnt in the
end-of-life phase that the CO2 is released.
3. Bamboo Industrial Properties
Bamboo high mechanical properties such as tensile and compressive strength, shrinkage,
resistibility and elasticity make it a potential multi-functional material for structural applications. Fibres
in bamboo run axially; hence the tensile strength of bamboo is on the outer edge of the culm which is
a profoundly versatile vascular bundle. The strength of bamboo fibres varies along with culm height.
The compressive strength of culms increases with height while bending strength has opposite pattern.
Bamboo shrinks more than wood when it loses water. It shrinks in the cross sections between 10
16%, and in the wall thickness is also about 1517%. The property of high silicate acid by bamboo
makes it have an abnormal flame resistibility. Bamboo has an enormous elasticity which makes it a
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
suitable building material and is environmentally friendly for areas with quakes. Furthermore, bamboo
has a relatively low weight and can be transported easily and utilised at any given distance across the
globe (Klaus, 2002).
3.1 Bamboo Industrial Uses
According to research by Vogtländer, (2011), Waite (2009) and Wooldridge (2012), utilisation of
bamboo range from foods, medicines, biomass, textiles, pulp and paper making. Also, it is used as a
candidate material, seeing its application ranging from construction of buildings and bridges,
construction of furniture, household items, application in the electronic and automobile industry, and
other products like chopsticks and so on. (Xaing, 2010). Bamboo posses a high amount of nutritional
minerals including amino acids, vitamins, and steroids which are removed from bamboo culm, leaves
and shoot. Some other products from bamboo include processed beverages, medicines, pesticides
and household items, e.g., toothpaste, soap, and so on. (Vogtländer, 2011).
The industrial processing of bamboo in recent years gives an indication that anything that can be
made from the wood material can also be developed from industrial bamboo materials. The industrial
processing of bamboo and in particular the laminate bamboo strips made into boards (Plybamboo),
mostly finds applications in flooring, furniture board, veneer, and woven bamboo mats (van der Lugt
and Lobovikov 2008). Examples of bamboo industrial uses are as shown in Figure 3, 4 and 5
respectively.
Figure 3: Plybamboo Veneer(Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
Figure 4: Coarse woven mats form the building stones for BMB (Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
Figure 5: Plybamboo is available in various colours and sizes (Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
Besides the traditional applications of bamboo for local markets and low-end export markets in
its natural form, it is usually used as a wealth of new bamboo materials. Since the 1990s through
industrial processing by adopting wood processing technique bamboo has been processed into
products such as Plybamboo and Strand Woven Bamboo, which can be used in high-end
technological applications. Figure 6, can be seen showing diverse kinds of bamboo products relate to
each other regarding technology approaches in the production systems on the axis traditional -
industrial/advanced.
Figure 6: Range of bamboo applications possible, based on traditional and advanced technologies
(Larasati 1999)
In the past years, many innovations in the field of production technology have led to the
development of new industrial bamboo materials having different properties and products including
Strand Woven Bamboo (SWB), Bamboo Particle Board (BPB), Bamboo Mat Board (BMB) and various
experiments with Bamboo Composites. BMB is made from thin bamboo strips or slivers woven into
mats to which resin has been added, and then these strips are pressed together under high pressure
and temperature, the mats become tough boards, which during pressing can even be put in moulds to
be processed into corrugated boards as shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7: Various kinds of bamboo board material including BMB (Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
Strand Woven Bamboo is a new bamboo material made from thin, rough bamboo strips that under
high pressure are glued in moulds into beams. An exciting feature of SWB is that there are no high
requirements for input strips which mean that, unlike the production of Plybamboo, a large part of the
resource can be used, thereby utilising the high biomass production of bamboo to the maximum. The
Strand Woven Bamboo (SWB) has a high density almost (1080 kg/m3) of hardness which makes it a
suitable natural material for demanding applications (e.g. staircases in department stores) figure 8. As
TRADITIONAL
HYBRID
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
a result of compression and the addition of resin to the strips of bamboo, there has been a new
version of SWB developed resins for external application, having a higher resin content use,
enhancing the quality of SWB as an alternative for rare tropical hardwood species.
Figure 8: Application of SWB in a stairway (Van der Lugt et al. 2009)
3.2 Bamboo for construction use
In the construction industries, bamboo is used as a building material for decoration and as a
structural member of a house. Bamboo utilisation for housing has since ages back, used as poles,
trusses, rafter, flooring, ceiling, roof, window and door frames, footbridges, fence posts and, the wall
as shown in figure 9. They are also used in modern-day as scaffolds to support slabs while
constructing. Bamboo production is now familiar with the world and has since been in China, India,
Vietnam and Thailand where mat boards are produced. Sustainability of bamboo is attainable across
the globe according to studies as it is in most Asian countries.
Figure 9: Bamboo wall (Anon, 2015).
The use of bamboo in recent times as a raw material in structural works is due to its environmentally
friendly attributes and readily availability (Yu et al. 2011).
Bamboo-based panels are products made from raw bamboo through a series of mechanical and
chemical procedures, such as spraying glue, laying up, and hot pressing. According to Naxium (2001),
the bamboo-based panels have the advantages of considerable size, high strength, stabilisation in
shape and size, and it is parallel and perpendicular strength and property that can be adjusted
according to different demands. Bamboo-based panels are relatively typical engineering materials.
The panels are manufactured under high temperature and pressure with the aid of adhesives. Ply
bamboo is used in truck floors as the weight of steel materials is too high. Also, ply bamboo has a high
friction coefficient, and it does not rust. The bamboo species in Ghana at present can be developed
into bamboo-based panels which can be used in the structural application fields in the form of Mat
Plybamboo, Curtain Plybamboo, Laminated Bamboo of Strips, Plybamboo, Bamboo Particleboard,
and Bamboo Composite Board. The bamboo-based composite may also be the suitable alternative as
the materials of prefabrication regarding the various advantages they contain. Development of panel
products based on bamboo strips and fibre polymer is gaining importance as these panel products
reassemble wood when used in a particular fashion as in parallel laminates and as reinforcement in
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
other matrices. These products will have superior physical, mechanical properties and are suitable for
the structural and specialised application. Moreover, the requirement of resin adhesives is expected to
be lower compared to bamboo mat based composites and therefore making the products cost-
effective which are considered to be ideal for alternates to wood and plywood for several end-user
applications. Bamboo laminates and fibre polymers could replace timber in many applications such as
house building, doors, windows, ceiling, furniture, and several other structural applications.
4. Sustainable Development of bamboo
The increased population in our towns and cities across the globe concerning consumer
demand has put more pressure on global natural resources according to (Brundtland et al. 1987). The
high demand per capita has cause three main interrelated environmental problems: (1) depletion of
resources, (2) deterioration of ecosystems and (3) deterioration of human health, and (4) effects on
the environment (Van den Dobbelsteen 2004). The world commission on environment and
development in 1987, presented a comprehensive report dubbed ‘Our Common Future’ by
(Brundtland et al. 1987). Their report findings include the - now widely adopted - concept of
sustainable development. The report assesses the present developmental needs meeting the
required standards by not depriving or compromising on the future generations for meeting their own
needs. Hence, the term “sustainability” was first interpreted in its environmental meaning by this
report.
4.1 The Impact of Bamboo on a Sustainable Environment
The environmental impact of a product depends on all the life cycle stages of the product. Naturally,
one area that the environmental impact of material has the most influence on the production phase of
products is during the raw material delivery as well as the factory production processes. However, the
choice for a specific material in a product production also has a substantial direct impact on other
aspects of the product in other stages of the life cycle. The production methods such as the
processing stage (e.g. energy impact and efficiency of production technology), use phase (e.g.
durability during lifespan) and the end-of-life phase (e.g. possibility of recycling, biodegradation, or
generation of electricity at the end of the lifespan). The processes show that materials are intrinsically
linked to every stage of the life cycle of a product.
The research finding using the LCA test analysis on the bamboo from cultivation to the end of its
disposal systematically shows that the environmental impact of bamboo products are sustainable and
it improves the atmospheric conditions of our societies. Principally, in an LCA, all environmental
effects relating to the three main environmental problems occurring during the life cycle of its product
are analysed, from the extraction of resources until the end phase of demolition or recycling. The LCA-
methodology used was conducted by the internationally standardised in the ISO 14040 series. The
three main environmental problems include:
Depletion of Resources: The increase in human population leads to high demand for a
resource primarily natural materials for structural works which contribute to the depletion of the
resources. It becomes clear that resource depletion is becoming an urgent problem for society. The
raw material consumption of industrials per capita is high according to (Adriaanse et al. 1997,
Dorsthorst and Kowalczyk 2000)
Ecosystem Deterioration: The increase in population has a direct influence on man demands
high raw material by industries in developed and developing countries to meet the need of its people.
This demand has led to over-exploitation of our natural resources in the forest causing the ecosystems
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
negatively (e.g. landscape deterioration, erosion), product processes and transportation (e.g.
emissions of greenhouse gases causing climate change), and ultimate disposal of waste (e.g.
toxification, acidification). Depending on the material in question the influence of the extraction and
manufacturing of materials on ecosystem deterioration will differ. For example, heavy metals may
have a stronger environmental impact during its processes, application and at the end-of-life phase
due to their toxicity and the lack of biological degradability of these metals as stated by (Dorsthorst
and Kowalczyk 2000)
Deterioration of Human Health: According to Dorsthorst and Kowalczyk (2000) some
materials such heavy metals are harmful to human health during its lifecycle stages at large. Some
materials such as timber can be harmful to human health when they are impregnated with harmful
preservatives (e.g. arsenic, copper, chrome) for it entire extended lifespan in use. Directly or
indirectly, timber materials have a tremendous influence on the human health and the environment as
they are harvest indiscriminately reducing the oxygen amount in the atmosphere paving the way for
outbreaks of several environmental pollution and diseases now and in the future.
A basic LCA provides an outcome of different effect scores; a weighing method not included,
and an overall judgment of the negative environmental impact of bamboo products is therefore not
possible. The models to arrive at a single indicator of LCA are always subject to discussion, the
weighing method applied in damage based models, is also base on the environmental effects included
or excluded during the allocation of the issues derived as stated by (van den Dobbelsteen 2002 and
2004).
5. Recommendations for the Bamboo Industry
To improve the environmental sustainability of bamboo cultivation, processing and preservation
of its products for structural candidate’s applications, industrial bamboo material producers are
recommended to:
1. cultivate high yielding giant bamboo species suitable for the production of fibre and strip
materials for structural application by also increase its plantations commercially.
2. execute environmental impact assessments as implied by the method of LCA to know which
steps in the production are most harmful to the environment and do away or critical precautions to
followed to prevent or limit any environmental impact from the processing of the materials. For
example, industrial bamboo producers could use less harmful additives during the production process
(i.e. preservatives, resins), either by reducing resins quantity or chemicals application and opt for
environmentally friendly or biodegradable resin or chemicals would be an advantage.
3. develop the take-back techniques and recycle all bamboo products at the end of the lifecycle
process which is 100% reusable in the same function (Cradle to Cradle strategy).
4. the need to increase the efficiency of the transformation process of the bamboo resource in semi-
finished products to a more higher finish, durable products, for the applications in which bi-products of
bamboo products can be used to produce other wood panels.
5. the development of new industrial bamboo products, like corrugated bamboo mat boards has
competitive utilisation advantages and specific differences compared to wood. Bamboo’s advantages
over wood in the microfibre and the mechanical performance gives it sharp edge choice in natural fibre
based composites. However, the primary challenge is the processes that are required to go through in
its extraction of the fibres is worthwhile for research work in Ghana. An effective and efficient way of
extracting bamboo fibres without leaving any harmful footprint on the environment is essential and
must start from the harvesting of culms. The cutting of culms from the bottom, include selecting only
mature culms, using appropriate tools and machines in the processes, appropriate chemical for fibre
treatment and extraction, appropriate transportation of culms and products to the composite material
site as well as product producing industries.
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference 16-18 September 2015
on Infrastructure Development and Livingstone, Zambia
Investment Strategies for Africa ISBN 978-0-86970-782-1
6. Conclusion
In conclusion, an environmental impact assessment based on LCA is often lacking specific data
and only provides an overview of the environmental impact (regarding emissions and materials
depletion) of a product as in the case of a sustainable bamboo cultivation and application in Ghana.
LCA is a relatively new methodology that is continuously being improved upon, based on which
new models continue to emerge on the market, and this serves as a basis for the enhancement of a
sustainable bamboo growth in Ghana and the world at large.
Furthermore, the factor time and place are not incorporated into an LCA; this is because most
LCA based calculation is full of assumptions and estimations which may differ per calculation. For
example, for the factor place, even for the same product or material, production data may differ
depending on the country of production (e.g. regulations about emissions of production facilities), or
the country of consumption (e.g. transportation distance). The production context may also differ,
which can be best or worst practice or something in between (e.g. recycling, waste treatment,
incorporated at production site), which can cause differences in environmental impact for precisely the
same product according to (Potting 2000).
Even though bamboo is a fast regenerative material for the production of wood products in the
construction industries, sustainable measures need to be put in place. There should be strict policies
in place to control the harvesting of only the matured culms forests and plantations. Also, research
finding indicates that this renewable resource is under a high threat of depletion, and hence high
yielding species should be introduced across tropical and subtropical countries where bamboo growth
is sustainable.
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... In addition to having excellent physical, chemical, and mechanical characteristics, bamboos are considered efficient carbon sequesters and can be used in reforestation, in the restoration of riparian forests, and, also, as environmental protectors and regenerators (Yeasmin et al. 2015;Akwada and Akinlabi 2018). Due to the physical quality of its culms, several species of bamboo are routinely used as raw materials in engineering and construction works (Akwada and Akinlabi 2015), in addition to being important raw materials for the manufacture of paper (Chen et al. 2019), flooring, and laminates (Sharma et al. 2015), besides being an important resource for food (Satya et al. 2010). ...
Chapter
Cryopreservation is the conservation of living organisms in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of −196 °C or slightly lower; this phase may also constitute an intermediate stage for definitive freezing at −196 °C. At this temperature, cellular metabolism and biochemical processes are substantially reduced, and biological deterioration is practically paralyzed. Consequently, the biological deterioration of the material during storage is minimal, and it can be stored for indefinite periods of time. Apparently, most seeds of bamboo species do not have any kind of numbness but lose viability quickly when kept under normal environmental conditions. Thus, the use of cryogenic techniques or cryopreservation is an alternative for the conservation of germplasm in the long term, especially when conventional conservation, based on the storage of seeds at low temperatures, is not efficient. In this chapter, we evaluate techniques capable of providing ex situ conservation of whole bamboo seeds. In it, we indicate an effective and safe alternative of conserving the genetic variability of the species to avoid or at least minimize the process of genetic erosion and loss of genetic resources of bamboo, from the cryopreservation of whole seeds. In the end, we also indicate regeneration alternatives, in addition to describing in detail the protocol for cryopreservation of seeds that, which followed correctly, can be extended to the various bamboo species.
... Bamboo is a rapid growth plant compared to other trees and a sustainable source as the increasing use in various areas of the wood and construction industry [12], [13]. Bamboo has been largely used in building applications such as fences, flooring, ceiling, wall and windows. ...
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