Homepage / Currency / Innovative materials from bamboo are helping a new industry to sprout
Amazon says this Prime Day was its biggest shopping event ever Kudlow says President Trump is 'so dissatisfied' with China trade talks that he is keeping the pressure on As stocks regain their footing, an ominous warning looms Goldman Sachs downgrades Clorox to sell, says valuation is 'unsustainably high' How Satya Nadella has spurred a tripling of Microsoft's stock price in just over four years Kudlow says economic growth could top 4% for 'a quarter or two,' more tax cuts could be coming The one chart that explains Netflix’s stunning comeback US housing starts plunge 12% in June to a nine-month low Aerospace titans Boeing and Airbus top $110 billion in orders at Farnborough Target uses Prime Day to its advantage, logging its 'biggest online shopping day' so far this year Billionaire Marc Lasry sees bitcoin reaching up to $40,000 as it becomes more mainstream and easier to trade These are the 10 US airports where you're most likely to be hacked Amazon shares slightly higher as investors await Prime Day results Wreck of Russian warship found, believed to hold gold worth $130 billion A bullish ‘phenomenon’ in bond market is weeks away from fading, top credit strategist says Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: MS, GOOGL, TXN, UAL, NFLX & more Twitter shares up 50% since late April means most upside priced in, analyst says in downgrade EU fines Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Mortgage applications fall 2.5% as buyers struggle to find affordable homes America may not have the tools to counter the next financial crisis, warn Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson Investors are getting spooked as the risk of a no-deal Brexit rises EU expected to fine Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Ex-FBI chief James Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterm elections Elon Musk apologizes to British cave diver following baseless 'pedo guy' claim Disney, Comcast and Fox: All you need to know about one of the biggest media battles ever Xiaomi shares notch new high after Hong Kong, mainland China stock exchanges reach agreement The trade war is complicating China's efforts to fix its economy European markets set for a strong open amid earnings; Google in focus Hedge fund billionaire Einhorn places sixth in major poker tournament The biggest spender of political ads on Facebook? President Trump Asian stocks poised to gain after Fed's Powell gives upbeat comments; dollar firmer Stocks are setting up to break to new highs Not all FAANG stocks are created equal EU ruling may be too little, too late to stop Google's mobile dominance Cramer explains how Netflix's stock managed to taper its drop after disappointing on earnings Airbnb condemns New York City's 'bellhop politics,' threatens legal retaliation Amazon sellers say they were unfairly suspended right before Prime Day, and now have two bad choices Investor explains why 'duller' tech stocks can have better returns than 'high-flying' tech names Elon Musk is 'thin-skinned and short-tempered,' says tech VC Texas Instruments CEO Brian Crutcher resigns for violating code of conduct Google Cloud Platform fixes issues that took down Spotify, Snapchat and other popular sites Uber exec: We want to become the 'one stop' transportation app 'What a dumb hearing,' says Democrat as Congress grills tech companies on conservative bias Amazon shares rebound, report says Prime Day sales jumped 89 percent in first 12 hours of the event How to put your medical history on your iPhone in less than 5 minutes Investment chief: Watch these two big events in 2018 Even with Netflix slowing, the market rally is likely not over Cramer: Netflix subscriber weakness debunks the 'sky's the limit' theory on the stock Netflix is looking at watch time as a new area of growth, but the competition is stiff Why Nobel laureate Richard Thaler follows Warren Buffett's advice to avoid bitcoin Rolls-Royce is developing tiny 'cockroach' robots to crawl in and fix airplane engines After Netflix plunge, Wall Street analysts forecast just tame returns ahead for the once high-flying FANG group Roku shares rise after analyst raises streaming video company's price target due to customer growth China is investing 9 times more into Europe than into North America, report reveals Amazon says US Prime Day sales 'so far bigger than ever' as glitch is resolved Netflix is on pace for its worst day in two years US lumber producers see huge opportunity, rush to expand San Francisco to consider tax on companies to help homeless Homebuilder sentiment, still high, stalls as tariffs, labor and land drive up costs Powell backs more rate hikes as economy growing 'considerably stronger' Netflix history is filled with big stock declines – like today – followed by bigger rebounds Intel shares get downgraded by Evercore ISI due to rising competition from Nvidia, AMD Petco aims to reinvent the pet store with something you can't buy online Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware Tech 'FAANG' was the most-crowded trade in the world heading into the Netflix implosion, survey shows Netflix weak subscriber growth may indicate a 'maturity wall' that could whack the stock even more: Analyst This chart may be predicting the bull market's demise Wall Street says Netflix's stock plunge is a ‘compelling’ buying opportunity because the streaming giant ‘never misses twice’ Tesla sinks after Musk tweets, again Boeing announces new division devoted to flying taxis Stocks making the biggest move premarket: NFLX, UNH, GS, AMZN, WMT & more Deutsche Bank downgrades Netflix, but says big subscriber miss is not 'thesis changing' IBM is experimenting with a cryptocurrency that’s pegged to the US dollar North Korea and Zimbabwe: A friendship explained Virgin Galactic spinoff Orbit to launch rockets from the UK with space deal Artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys? That’s what PwC says ‘Treasonous’ Trump and ‘Putin’s poodle:' Scathing headlines follow the Trump-Putin summit China’s fintech companies offer ‘enormous’ opportunity, investment manager says Trump's performance at summit with Putin was 'unprecedented,' experts say Walmart and Microsoft link up on cloud technology as they both battle Amazon European stocks seen mixed amid earnings; Fed’s Powell to address Congress How I knew I should quit my day job and run my start-up full-time: Viral website founder China's stocks have been trounced, but the trade war may ultimately be good news for those shares Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel bets on crypto start-up Block.one Asian shares subdued open after mixed close on Wall Street; energy stocks under pressure Amazon cloud hits snags after Amazon Prime Day downtime Netflix isn't doomed by one quarter unless people start questioning the long-term investor thesis Tech stocks set to sink on Tuesday after rough evening for ‘FANG’ Netflix plummets after missing big on subscriber growth This wristband lets humans control machines with their minds The U.S. has a rocky history convincing Russia to extradite computer criminals Amazon suffers glitches at the start of Prime Day Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in modern history 'The United States has been foolish': Read Trump and Putin's full exchange Goldman Sachs recommends these 5 highly profitable companies — including Nvidia — to combat rising inflation Goldman Sachs releases 'tactical' stock picks for this earnings season Three red flags for Netflix ahead of its earnings report The bond market may be raising recession fears, but don't expect one anytime soon Cramer: Banks are 'making fortunes' but are still as hated as they were during the financial crisis Putin told Trump at summit: Russia never meddled in US election

Currency

Innovative materials from bamboo are helping a new industry to sprout

FANNING out from the sodden delta of the Yangtze, and southward to the flanks of the Nanling mountains, over 6m hectares of emerald bamboo groves—one-fifth of the world’s reserves—flourish in China. Giant pandas nibble the softest shoots. Around 40bn pairs of disposable chopsticks are made from bamboo twigs annually in China, for use with everyday meals. Steel scaffolding is still often shunned for bamboo on skyscrapers under construction in even the ritziest parts of Hong Kong. The history of the grass is colourful, too. Before paper, Chinese wrote on bamboo slips; they used bamboo tubes for irrigation, and later stuffed them with gunpowder to ignite muskets.

Yet for all its importance and abundance bamboo is “China’s forgotten plant”, says Martin Tam, an expert in Hong Kong. To demonstrate its potential, he greets visitors with a can of bamboo juice, proffers a bamboo business card, and gestures to a bamboo armchair near his desk. He says the plant should be “green gold”, for it is one of the world’s swiftest growers, gaining up to 1m a day, and can be harvested in under ten years, half the time it takes for the softest woods to mature. Its tensile strength is greater than that of mild steel. It withstands compression twice as well as concrete, and needs next to no watering, pesticides or fertilisers.

But the hard work begins after it is cut. Though it thrives in steamy, rain-drenched areas, bamboo products require a lot of treatment to withstand sunshine and moisture, as they still contain sugar and water. A string of lacquers, resins, waxes, bleaches and preservatives are required to stave off termites and decay. As a result, manufacturing has remained labour-intensive, crude and small-scale, says Mr Tam. Factories nestle in bamboo groves. Margins are low. Toothpicks, matchsticks, incense sticks, mats and baskets are still among the plant’s most common offshoots. Selling “poor man’s timber” to Chinese is hard. In Shengzhou, among the most prolific regions in Zhejiang province in eastern China, about 95% of bamboo handicrafts are exported.

But the material’s prospects are improving. One reason is environmental awareness. Chinese firms account for 90% of the international export market for laminated bamboo flooring, the appeal of which has grown as Western consumers go green. In 2016 factories churned out 116m square metres of it. The International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation, an intergovernmental body based in Beijing, says the renewable, low-carbon alternative to plastics and timber is now “part of China’s environmental leadership bid”. Bamboo releases lots of oxygen into the air, swallowing four times as much carbon as some trees. Since 2012, Chinese companies can offset their carbon emissions by buying credits in bamboo plantations.

At a forum last May on President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” initiative for better infrastructure, a private company from Zhejiang province was invited to display bamboo strong enough to build storm-drainage pipes and shock-resistant exteriors for bullet-train carriages. The Chinese state is giving generous subsidies to farmers. The annual value of the bamboo industry has grown 500-fold since 1981, to $32bn; in three years China plans to boost this to $48bn, and to have 10m employed.

Heats shoots and leaves

Technology is also changing things. Bamboo is finding its way into a range of new plywoods and plastics. Bamboo powder, produced during manufacturing, has mainly been used to fuel factories. Now it is being combined with resins to make new materials. Leftover plastics recycled from air-conditioning and suitcase factories are mixed with bamboo powder to make outdoor decking for the likes of Verdee, a fashionable bamboo-flooring and homeware store in Hong Kong.

Taohuajiang, one of a handful of big companies in the industry, wants to get more high-tech. Based in Hunan province, Taohuajiang was listed in June 2016 on the NEEQ, a Chinese startup exchange. Its net profit, of 4.6m yuan ($700,000) in 2016, came mainly from selling bamboo flooring and beams. Recently it patented a carbonisation process, done through successive heatings, that ensures bamboo cannot corrode. Peng Jian of Taohuajiang is confident that the “magic grass” could end up replacing steel, timber and plastic (though as yet his new eco-friendly material is two-and-a-half times the price of steel, too heavy to substitute for wood in furniture and cannot be bent like plastic).

Mr Peng’s bamboo composites have, however, been used in everything from railway sleepers to manhole covers. BMW and Lexus, both carmakers, are among his traders’ clients, as they consider replacing plastic and wood in car interiors. A German marine-floorings firm wants to apply his bamboo composites to cruise decks. A Canadian company in the space industry is using them in its telescopes.

Other bits of the bamboo industry face harder times. As scaffolding, it has been phased out in much of mainland China as a potential safety and fire hazard. Hong Kong still lashes together about 5m bamboo poles a year at its construction sites. They are three times quicker to erect than steel rods and cost a fraction of the price. But the number of workmen trained on bamboo is dwindling. At WLS Holdings, among the oldest bamboo-scaffolding firms on the island, losses have grown. The firm’s problems go deeper than bamboo, but its fading fortunes capture something. As one part of the industry wilts, another looks about to shoot up.

Source: economist
Innovative materials from bamboo are helping a new industry to sprout

Comments are closed.