Welcome to the 11th episode of the #ThinkBamboo Podcast! I’m your host, JJ, and today we have a special guest, Marc Peeters, from Bambu Nusa Verde in Indonesia. In this episode, we dive into Marc’s journey from Belgium in western Europe to Indonesia and explore the incredible challenges of bamboo. We’ll also discuss the some of the specific challenges and opportunities that come with bamboo tissue culture. So, sit back, relax, and join us on this exciting bamboo-filled adventure!
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Video Quick Links
00:06 Marc Peeters shares how he got into the bamboo business
04:20 Bamboo tissue culture is challenging
08:39 Producing 50,000 bamboo seedlings per month
12:35 Growing and shipping plants for rehabilitation in poor soil
16:54 Biodegradable plastics are not widely available in Indonesia and expensive
20:35 Bamboo is a solution for polluted soil
24:04 A sustainable alternative to trees for carbon sequestration
27:32 Rattan as alternative to other materials for bone replacement
From Telecom Professional to Bamboo Pioneer:
First of all, congratulations to Marc on the 14th anniversary of Bambu Nusa Verde. It’s an impressive milestone. Marc’s journey began 45 years ago when he arrived in Indonesia as a telecom professional. After working for 30 years, he had the opportunity to work in China but chose to stay in Indonesia. Surprisingly, during his time in Indonesia, he discovered a Belgian company involved in bamboo production. This discovery came as a surprise considering his long stay in Indonesia without prior knowledge of it. Intrigued by the idea of engaging in something green and beneficial for nature, Marc delved deeper into the potential of bamboo.
Marc’s interest in bamboo grew when he met the owner of the company, who happened to be a pioneer in bamboo tissue culture. It was a fortunate coincidence that the company was located just 34 kilometers from his home in Belgium. In 2009, Marc attended the World Bamboo Congress in Bangkok, where he realized the incredible potential of bamboo. Initially, the owner didn’t think Marc’s telecom background would be relevant, but Marc’s knowledge of Indonesia proved valuable. At the Congress, Marc recognized the uniqueness of their approach and the company’s laboratory in Indonesia to produce bamboo plants on a large scale, contributing to making Indonesia greener.
Unveiling Indonesia’s Bamboo Revolution:
With Marc’s passion ignited, he joined the company and became fascinated by the world of bamboo. He emphasizes that bamboo tissue culture is the company’s unique selling proposition (USP). While many people recognize bamboo for its various applications such as paper and plywood, the challenge lies in successfully reproducing bamboo on a large scale. Bamboo, being a primitive plant, a giant grass, presents difficulties in initiating tissue culture due to embedded bacteria. Remarkably until, a few years ago, they were had great difficulty to produce lots of bamboo plants ready for production. However, with their expertise, they have overcome these challenges and now produce bamboo plants for industrial and ornamental applications.
Bamboo Tissue Culture:
Transitioning into the process of bamboo cultivation, Marc explains that they grow the bamboo plants in trays, which are later transplanted to polybags and finally to the field. To ensure the quality of the plants, they usually distribute one-year-old plants to their customers, with intensive root system. Notably, their primary customers in Indonesia come from the mining industry, where bamboo is used for land rehabilitation. Additionally, they have received requests to help conserve nearly extinct bamboo species and other trees to reintroduce them into mass production, and successfully initiate/produce the largest varieties of bamboo from tissue culture.
Cultivating Bamboo on a Large Scale:
The conversation shifts to the challenges of managing a large-scale bamboo operation. Marc addresses the issue of organic matter and the significant quantity of soil required for growing 50,000 bamboo seedlings per month. Instead of using a massive amount of soil, they grow the plants in trays, which are then shipped overseas or transplanted into polybags for domestic market, and then planted in the field once they reach the desired stage. This method optimizes their resource utilization and streamlines the production process.
Bamboo: The ‘Green Gold’ of Industries:
As the podcast nears its end, JJ raises questions about the environmental impact and the concept of “Green Gold.” Marc highlights their collaboration with another individual who recognized the potential of bamboo. Moreover, they aim to produce end products such as energy feedstock, paper, textiles, and many more. Additionally, in addition to contributing to job creation and corporate responsibility, they emphasize the importance of crowdfunding and green partnerships to support the implementation of sustainable bamboo initiatives.
Creating a Greener Future:
The discussion concludes with Marc sharing his optimism about the future. He stresses that bamboo has immense potential to contribute to carbon sequestration, making the world a greener and cleaner place. Marc encourages anyone interested in bamboo to reach out to Bambu Nusa Verde for more information and to explore the wide range of applications bamboo offers.
Rattan as Bone Replacement
Another truely mindblowing thing was that bambu nusa verde es currently also busy developing application of Rattan as bone replacement. They have supplied giant rattan species to Italy for testing to replace titanium in broken bones. Now Rattan and bamboo are both natural materials commonly used in furniture and handicrafts. While rattan is a type of climbing plant known for its flexible and durable stems, bamboo is a type of giant grass characterized by its hollow and segmented culms, resulting in contrasting textures and structural properties between the two. Rattan is a unique material as it can only be harvested once in its lifetime, usually after it reaches a certain maturity. Additionally, rattan grows exclusively in natural jungle environments, making it challenging to cultivate or harvest on a large scale for industrial purposes compared to bamboo, which can be cultivated in plantations.