New Dovetail Report Revisits Bamboo Products and Their Environmental Impacts


Unquestioned green status accorded bamboo products still needs serious re-evaluation


(Minneapolis, MN) - A new report from Dovetail Partners revisits bamboo products and their environmental impacts. This report is a follow-up to work done in 2005 to investigate the environmental attributes of bamboo, a material that had several years earlier been firmly embraced by the green movement in the absence of any serious attempt to determine what impacts actually result from its production and use.


At that time, Dovetail's investigation revealed many environmental concerns associated with growing, harvesting, and converting bamboo to useful products. The earlier report concluded with the observation that the unquestioned green status accorded bamboo products needed serious re-evaluation and that, at a minimum, third-party certification should be required before awarding any kind of green status to bamboo products.


In this latest report, Dovetail revisits bamboo products and environmental impacts associated with their production and use. The report also provides updated information regarding availability of certified bamboo products and their performance. This report focuses on bamboo production in China, which has by far the largest and fastest growing bamboo industry.


Among the findings of the report are: 


  • The U.S. Green Building Council has discontinued the availability of credits for use of rapidly renewable materials in its 2014 LEED v.4 Standard.
  • Actions by the federal Government Services Agency (GSA) guarantee a continued legacy of bamboo products use since GSA endorsed use of LEED in federally funded building projects but only LEED version 2009 instead of the latest version that removes rapidly renewable credits.
  • Despite a diversity of bamboo species only one species is dominant in cultivated plantations and accounts for more than 80% of China's bamboo area.
  • Significant increases in China's bamboo production market over the past 20 years has created substantial environmental impacts on biodiversity, forests, soil and water quality.
  • Wood yields from intensively managed plantations of hardwoods, such as eucalyptus, are similar or often higher when compared to intensively managed bamboo plantations and require fewer harvest cycles and less use of fertilizers and pesticides.   
  • A new approach to responsible sourcing of bamboo is now available in the form of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard, which implements sustainable harvesting guidelines for plantation grown bamboo.   


The full report may be downloaded from the Dovetail website: