Recycled Paper or Bamboo Fiber for Your Business Consumables?
As businesses and organisations become more and more environmentally aware and focused on ‘green’ issues, they are taking steps towards re-evaluating items that are frequently consumed in the workplace, such as hand towels and toilet paper. Increasingly, businesses are moving away from paper towards other sustainable consumables made from materials such as bamboo.
Although paper does have the advantage of being biodegradable, and is a natural substance, the manufacturing process of paper has significant drawbacks, such as the use of chemicals that may harm the environment. Recyclable paper is of course preferable to non-recycled paper, yet hard paper towels can still take a significant amount of time to undergo decomposition. Most paper fibres have the ability to undergo recycling processes between around 4 and 8 times. After being recycled on so many occasions, the paper fibres eventually wear down to such a degree that they can no longer successfully coalesce into paper. It is estimated that current use of recycled paper constitutes about a third of all paper products in circulation. It is therefore clear that much more can be done to increase this percentage to as close to 100 percent as possible.
Recycled paper has the advantage of avoiding as much damage to the environment through the cutting down of old growth forests, not to mention the opportunity costs of having to initiate new tree plantations and wait for them to come to maturity. There are also costs involved in the manufacturing and transportation costs every time new paper is created, as well as an increase in the fossil fuels and other harmful materials release into the atmosphere.
One alternative to using recycled paper in your business consumables is the use of bamboo fibres in materials such as hand towels and toilet paper. Bamboo fibres are utilised in consumables such as hand towels and toilet paper through an initial process of extraction from the bamboo pulp itself. The chemical process involved takes the unrefined bamboo pulp and transforms it through a process of alkalization followed by a number of rounds of bleaching. The resulting consumable made from the bamboo fibre material has a thin and white texture and colour respectively, making it almost indistinguishable from the traditional paper hand towel or toilet tissue.
One of the advantages inherent in using bamboo fibres instead of recycled paper is that bamboo based consumable products are eminently biodegradable. This allows for a reduced impact on the environment and decreased sources of pollution.
One disadvantage of the use of bamboo fibre products instead of traditional recycled paper hand towels and toilet tissue is the current infeasibility of meeting the widespread demand from businesses and other organisations through bamboo fibre products alone. Bamboo fibre products may help to reduce the potential loss of old growth forests, though again there are problems here in that, as certain environmental groups have pointed out, bamboo harvests can lead to the destruction of bamboo plant bases, which, among other things, provide animportant food source for Chinese Giant Pandas, an endangered species.