In photo: Bamboo yarn showing the bamboo fibers and bamboo pole as source of fiber
By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Photo courtesy of DOST-Philippine Textile Research Institute
Innovation and diligence wise, Filipinos can really be globally competitive and with the way our country performs in the Global Innovation Index 202, it only proves that yes we can.
Despite lack of funding, the Filipino scientists and other innovators have been painstakingly exploring all avenues using our very own indigenous resources and made an outstanding mark in their research and development output.
Just recently, the effort exerted in the research and development using bamboo yielded impressive indigenous natural textile fibers joining another awe-inspiring pineapple, abaca, and banana fabrics that the Philippines and Filipinos are known for and many illustrious couturiers have been embracing the use of these materials.
Thanks to the persistence and patience of our Filipino innovators and through the support of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s textile processing technology the birth of bamboo fabric came into being.
Various nations, including the Philippines, have pushed for the increase in people’s awareness of bamboo’s importance in our lives, and House Resolution 197 added to the recognition to proclaim the month of September as the Philippine Bamboo Month.
The Philippine Textile Research Institute, the textile arm of DOST (DOST-PTRI), has been invested in developing natural textile fibers as better options to petroleum- and chemical-based synthetics. The Institute has since included bamboo to its efforts at nurturing natural textile materials to support the Philippine contribution towards the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG12, on sustainable consumption and production.
To maximize local bamboo as a vast natural resource, the DOST-PTRI promotes its bamboo textile processing technology for the production of natural blended yarns and woven fabrics. Noting that bamboo has the highest textile fiber yield among other textile fibers like pineapple, banana, or abaca, more significant opportunities will be provided for income generation from upstream to downstream for the natural textile industry sector.
The DOST- PTRI technology has been optimized following mechano-chemical processes, and has noted a significant increase in the value of the bamboo pole (Php 5.00 per kilogram), to its transformation into bamboo textile fibers (BTF) in the spinnable form (Figure 1) to spun yarns (Php 910.00 per kilogram) seen in Figure 3. In one hectare of a bamboo plantation, there will be over 4,589 kilograms of spinnable bamboo textile fibers that can be obtained and when it is transformed into yarns, an estimate of 12,500 kilograms of yarns composed of 75/25 blended ratio of cotton and bamboo textile fiber can be produced.
It is also notable that the developed process is community-centric and sustainable in the conversion of poles to textile, the processing being one other than the regeneration route popularly known as the viscose process, an open system that is known to adversely affect the environment. Diversifying and expanding bamboo use through sustainable textile processing is a step to mainstreaming bamboo as a natural textile.
Bamboo Textile Fiber Innovation Hubs
To date, the DOST-PTRI identified eight provinces in the Philippines, which are proposed as potential Bamboo Textile Fiber Innovation Hubs (BTFIH) and hope to expand to other parts of the countries in due time. These hubs will serve as the gateway towards sustainable bamboo textile production and manufacturing given the ample bamboo plantation in their area. It seeks to boost the local economy through the utilization and value-addition of bamboo for the farmers, cooperatives, and/or local processors who may adapt the developed technology.
Creating more BTFIH in other regions of the country to make bamboo fabric available in our towns and push for funding of such textile innovations that will spur growth in the countryside. For interested clients, DOST-PTRI offers its bamboo textile processing technologies for the manufacture of bamboo-blended yarns and fabrics. The investment cost, investment package, and other relevant information can be requested or communicated through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ptri.dost.gov.ph
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