Bamboo is on the rise in construction. Used in particular in Asia for centuries, "green steel" is attracting more and more people. Considered as "the brother of man" in Japan, symbol of joy and serenity in China, there are no less than 1300 species. But is bamboo completely ecological? It depends on where it comes from and how it is used. Explanations.
Bamboo, a renewable natural material that preserves the environment
Easy to grow and resistant, it only takes a year to grow, without fertilizers or other phytosanitary products, and three years to mature. This allows it to be exploited quickly, after four years. In addition, by capturing more CO2 than trees, bamboo releases more oxygen.
Finally, it promotes the infiltration of water into the soil, thus fighting against their erosion, thanks to the dense mesh of its roots and the narrow shape of its leaves, which allow more rainwater to pass through than trees.
A fully recyclable multipurpose material
Recycled bamboo waste is frequently used to grow other plants. It can even be used to produce fertilizer. Very strong, light and relatively elastic, bamboo is used for almost everything in construction: fences of course, but also floors and walls, frames and beams, and even bridges and entire houses.
In Asia, it is used in traditional housing. It is particularly recommended in areas with seismic and cyclonic risk. It is also a popular material for skyscraper scaffolding in China and Hong Kong. Bamboo is also used in furniture, textiles and food.
Mass production and non-ecological processing
The increasing use of bamboo leads to excessive production, which can be a problem. Intensive exploitation gives rise to immense plantations, which leads to the destruction of other plant species. The overproduction of bamboo planted outside its natural environment is likely to affect the surrounding ecosystems.
Another downside, the transformation of the material requires chemicals, such as soda or hydrogen sulfide.
Bamboo's “ecological balance” is therefore mixed. It all depends on its use, but also on its origin.