Bamboo is a godsend to the emissions and natural damage associated with paper production. Bambooi is forest-friendly, sustainable toilet paper that contributes to a better world. In this article, we’ll tell you a little more about Bamboi’s paper manufacturing process and exactly how our bamboo toilet paper is made.
Bamboo versus wood fiber
The manufacturing process of bamboo toilet paper starts with the bamboo fibers. To obtain fiber from a tree or bamboo stem, the raw materials are first cut into shreds. The chips are then mixed in a tank in a mixture of water and caustic soda. The shreds along with the mixture are boiled, after which the composition will separate. This creates slurry. After this, the slurry is washed, filtered and refined and then run through a paper machine. Any product with pulp production undergoes the process of mixing caustic soda and water together with the chips.
It is often thought that caustic soda is a toxic chemical. But caustic soda is sodium hydroxide (NaOH), and is made from sodium chloride, or table salt. So caustic soda is a natural ingredient that has gotten a bad reputation because of its high pH. It is a caustic agent that must be worked with safely, but it is environmentally friendly and 100% biodegradable.
Caustic soda is needed so that the lignin – the wood dust – is separated from the cellulose – the fiber. After the separation process, bamboo is only washed, filtered and refined with water. After the blending process, bamboo meets all hygiene requirements. This ensures that the bonds in the fibers are not damaged, creating strong fibers and preserving the natural softness of bamboo. As a result, our bamboo toilet paper is also unbleached and strong and soft without additional added chemicals.
After the fibers are separated from the lignin, they are filtered with a sieve. It depends on the holes in the sieve how large the fibers become. The holes do need to be small enough to sift out the lignin. This is where bamboo makes a difference. Bamboo comes out of the sieve much stronger because bamboo is more flexible than wood, for example. As a result, longer fibers come out than wood, and longer fibers make for stronger paper.
Bamboo production against deforestation
One of the biggest advantages of bamboo products is that bamboo grows quickly. Bamboo can grow at a rate of up to 91 cm per day, making it the fastest growing plant in the world (Guinness World Records, 2022). So within two to three months, a bamboo shoot can grow 30 meters. For use as a raw material, bamboo can be harvested within a few years. In the case of bamboo toilet paper, it is three years. When harvested, the roots remain intact and the bamboo grows back from the same shoot; in fact, bamboo is a self-fertilizing plant. By harvesting at age three, the bamboo forest makes room for other bamboo shoots to grow faster again. This means that annual harvests can be made without deforestation if 33 percent of a three-year-old bamboo forest is cut each year.
Three years is impressive compared to other tree species such as pines and oaks, which are also used for paper production. For example, pine trees need 30 years before they can be harvested and oaks even 80 years. In addition, the tree species typically used for paper production are responsible for water and soil loss. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a natural protector of water, soil and forests. Bamboo protects land use and can even grow on degraded land. Bamboo ensures that primary forests do not need to be deforested and that paper products can be produced without deforestation.
So growing a tree takes much longer than growing bamboo. Bamboo grows faster, requires less water and energy, and uses no chemicals to bleach, soften and wash the paper. Making wood fiber, on the other hand, takes a lot of energy, water and time. Bamboo is made from the bamboo species Neosincalamus Affinis, a non-growing bamboo species.
Wood pulp mills are very large plants and are there to separate the lignin from the cellulose as best as possible. Only new raw materials can be used for this process. Wood fibers can be recycled up to eight times, but when the wood fibers are used to make toilet paper, this obviously does not happen. At least 200 million kilograms of toilet paper made from wood fiber is flushed down the toilet every year in the Netherlands alone, so it cannot be judged on whether it could have been used more often.
In summary, then, it makes sense to use fibers derived from trees to make products that can be recycled, in order to get the most out of them. Consider packaging or cardboard cups, for example. For toilet paper, a rapidly renewable raw material is better suited. In general, the sturdier the material, the longer the fiber should be so that the product is less likely to break and tear.
Bambooi toilet paper versus recycled toilet paper
The production process of bamboo paper differs from recycled paper. These differences are mainly in CO2 emissions and storage, water consumption and the use of chemicals or not. These points are briefly and concisely highlighted below.
Bamboo’s emissions are minimal because it requires little energy. Because no chemicals are used in bamboo paper production, many steps are skipped. This makes the production process of bamboo paper faster and more efficient compared to the production of recycled paper.
Too much CO2 in the air changes the climate. Climate change is happening fast, which is why CO2 storage is being promoted. Recycled paper stores little to no CO2. Bamboo, on the other hand, is just that: the CO2 remains in the paper until it decays in the sewer, as compost or in a landfill, for example.
The exact water consumption of recycled paper is not known, but it is said that one can assume about 0.5 liters per roll. For paper production without recycled water, it is 15 liters. This is 30 times as much. These processes are not transparent enough to make judgments. With bamboo, on the other hand, 1 kg of bamboo paper uses 35 liters of water, and 95% of this is recycled. Thus, in the end, 1 kg of paper consumes 1.75 liters of water. With the MAXI roll, for example, this converts to 0.549 liters per roll.
An organic product is biodegradable. This means that it can decay in nature without damaging it with chemicals. Recycled paper uses chemicals to extract the ink and make the paper white again. Softeners are also used to soften paper and a starch mixture to make paper stronger. Bamboo toilet paper, on the other hand, is 100% biodegradable and contains no softeners or starch blends with additional added chemicals.
In short, Bambooi is the paper of the future. Our paper is tree free, chemical free, hypoallergenic and CO2 negative. Together with users and our partners, we are making a positive impact on the environment with the simple switch to bamboo toilet paper. By providing high-quality, sustainable toilet paper, companies and organizations no longer have to contribute to unnecessary deforestation and water use, CO2 emissions and chemical use. Join the Bambooi revolution! Order our bamboo toilet paper here.