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....but, bamboo's has awesome potentiual

Published:Tuesday | June 14, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Bamboo products.

Despite the headache it is creating for farmers in Hanover, it would appear that the invasive bamboo plant has the potential to become a viable local industry.

Research has shown that the bamboo pulp can be used to make food containers, which would make it a suitable replacement for styrofoam containers, which Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, wants to see banned from Jamaica's list of imports.

In April, Samuda, said he plans to table a Private Member's Motion in the Senate for a ban on the importation of some plastic bags and styrofoam containers.

At the time, Samuda said styrofoam and plastics are major problems at landfills; arguing that the country has not been doing enough recycling to solve the problem.

With an abundance of bamboo over hundreds of acres of land in Hanover, it is believed that, if bamboo pulp is used to make food containers, it could be the solution to Jamaica's styrofoam/garbage woes. Additionally, it could create a new industry to spur economic growth and job creation in the parish.

"We can look at this seriously and take it up, and the government could support such an industry," said Donald Campbell, president of the Riverside Farmers Group

Ray Kerr, another established farmer, said a bamboo reserves could be created out of the excessive bamboo to drive such an industry, which could produce food containers, toilet tissue and other paper products.

"I think that would be ideal," said Kerr. "It would be a win-win situation; getting rid of styrofoam, which is unhealthy, and getting rid of the excess bamboo that kills other plants and then utilise the land for more productive use."

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, bamboo, which is considered one of the world's most versatile plants and is said to be the newest innovation in eco-friendly packaging, is the world's fastest growing plant, some varieties have been found to grow at up to 91 centimetres (35 inches) per day.

American multinational computer technology company, Dell, the first technology company to replace foam with bamboo cushions, described it as, "a great alternative' due to the plant being, 'highly renewable, light and strong."

"Paper and plastic may be the most common packaging options, but they're not the only ones. At Dell, we've pioneered the use of bamboo to protect certain devices," Dell stated on its website. "This giant member of the grass family, found in everything from food to flooring, is now also a sustainable packaging solution."

"Like steel, bamboo can withstand lots of stress while being stretched or pulled ... Because it's so tough, we know it can protect your technology equipment effectively," Dell added.

Based on research, it has been discovered that, there are more than 1000 uses of bamboo. The uses include the following:

- The production of wine, tea, beer and vinegar as well as textiles, bulletproof vests, newsprint, bond paper, toilet tissue, cardboard, coffee filters, ply bamboo and charcoal.

- Use in the automotive industry to make steering wheels, dashboards, interior trim and body parts.

- It is also used in the electronics industry in the making of cell phone and tablet cases, keyboards, headphones, speakers and laptops.

- C.G.