PH gov’t makes aggressive push for ‘e-bamboo’

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To ensure the quality of “e-bamboo” or engineered bamboo made in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)?s Forest Products Research and Development Institute or FPRDI has started to develop manufacturing standards for e-bamboo products, especially floor tiles.

A door made from e-bamboo

This is in preparation for the expected rise of use of e-bamboo as a popular material for housing and furniture components here in the Philippines.

E-bamboo refers to bamboo-based composite products made of a combination of bamboo strips, slats, strands, particles, fibers or veneers.

Project leader Marina A. Alipon said, ?We checked the physical and mechanical properties of e-bamboo made by various companies and organizations across the country because we wanted to come up with quality standards that we could submit to the Bureau of Product Standards? Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing (AITECH). ?

Alipon?s team was able to come up with data on the optimal strength requirements for locally made e-bamboo and submitted the information to AITECH for approval.

?Our goal is for our products to eventually become competitive in both local and foreign markets,? she said.

E-bamboo can be used in different ways just like solid wood. Being man-made, it can be designed to meet specific performance requirements. It is also often stronger and less prone to warping than their counterpart solid wood products.

Worldwide, e-bamboo is produced primarily in China and sold in North America, Europe, Japan, and Korea. Local production is very minimal, hampered by varied factors including the lack of raw materials.

An e-bamboo parquet floor from Bukidnon

According to FPRDI director Romulo T. Aggangan, ?The future certainly looks bright for the country?s bamboo industry especially with all the attention it received last year from the national government.?

Aganggan said that such attention given to our bamboo industry will also cascade to e-bamboo products.

Executive Order No. 879 created the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council, which is tasked to push for a robust and sustainable bamboo sector nationwide, with the help of other government agencies and the private sector.

?Our policy makers have finally seen the potential of bamboo enterprises as engines for economic growth, especially in the rural areas,? Aggangan added.

The world market for bamboo products amounted to $12 billion in 2012 and is expected to rise by $20 billion in 2015, he said.

One of the government?s flagship projects, the National Greening Program, included bamboo in its priority reforestation crops. Likewise, Executive Order No. 879 directs the Department of Education to use bamboo in at least 25 percent of the school desks and other furniture requirements of all public schools nationwide every year.

?That is a big market for our bamboo producers, and for e-bamboo manufacturers,? he concluded.

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