Australian Hardwoods, Why they are Greener than Bamboo
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Todays consumers are becoming more environmentally aware, they are looking for options that are truly sustainable.
In essence everyone wants to be green. The word ‘green’ is used to describe many products in the market place. Using the “green” word these days seems to be more of a marketing tool than a true indication of the product. So just how “green” are some of the products that are being promoted quite vigorously in particular Bamboo flooring? Some major considerations if you truly want find out if a product is “green” are – how a product is harvested and manufactured, how far it is has to be shipped to reach the customer and what is sacrificed to produce the final product.
Moso bamboo, the primary species used for manufacturing flooring, it can grow over 100cm in 24 hours, more common is from 3cm to 10cm per day and reaching a height of over two meters in 40-50 days. The best time to harvest the bamboo is when it reaches maturity at five years. Compare that to hardwood trees that take 40-60 years to reach full maturity on the surface it would seem bamboo is a more sustainable resource. Unfortunately this is not the case.
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The majority of bamboo timber comes from China where existing forests have been cleared to make way for bamboo plantations.
The deforestation leads to soil erosion and loss of habitat for flora and fauna, which is then compounded by the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers.
In Australia trees used for building products and hardwood flooring are harvested very sustainably. More often than not the trees harvested are from managed regrowth forests or plantations.
To make bamboo flooring it is cut-to-length, ripped into thin strips and laminated together with glues that contain carcinogenic chemicals like urea-formaldehyde, (there are some that are manufactured that don’t use dangerous chemical), it’s then milled into a tongue and groove and then finished with any number of different coatings which may or may not contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). Often, this is done with few regulations on the manufacturing plant, glue, finish or waste, in plants with up to 80% of the electricity coming from coal generation.
The hardwood flooring process is much simpler. Logs are sawn into planks, air dried and then kiln dried (most kilns are fuelled using the waste material left from the cutting process) the timber is machined into flooring, it is then wrapped and transported locally to the vendor.
Hardwood flooring takes less water and energy to produce than any other flooring option. The only by-product is sawdust, which can be made into many other things such as paper and particleboard. There is very little waste from machining hardwoods. Australian companies follow strict guidelines and recovery and sustainability are key in continuing to have a strong healthy, viable timber industry. Maintaining the quality of this flooring is very important to help keep it in good condition.
Probably the biggest impact on the environment is the issue of shipping. The environmental impact of shipping bamboo flooring from China to Australia easily out ways any good arguments for using Bamboo.
Large Container ships are considered to be some of the biggest polluters on the planet, their huge engines burn poor fuels and release massive amounts of polluting gases into the environment, also the waste from the bilge constantly pollutes the oceans.
Bamboo is often touted as being a solution to a problem, because bamboo is a noxious weed and using it to make other products is getting rid of a problem, but if it is planted deliberately to be used for manufacturing products then it no longer is solving a problem. Retailers often refer to it as timber flooring, when in reality it is a grass that has been mixed with chemicals to create a floorboard.
Australian Hardwood Floors Are Eco Friendly