Rizome harnesses the promise of bamboo as an alternative wood building material, delivers the thickest, most versatile product on the market
BRADENTON, Fla. – Nov. 4, 2021 – Rizome engineered bamboo building products are now shipping, paving the way for the company to establish a manufacturing facility in southern Florida. The new factory will cure and process bamboo boards up to 10 feet long. Rizome bamboo products include boards, veneers, and panels configured to meet design specifications.
“Our first shipments are coming from our manufacturing facility in the Philippines where giant bamboo species have been thriving,” said Russell Smith, CEO and co-founder of Rizome. “Now that we’ve codified the cultivation and manufacturing processes necessary to produce defect-free products, we’re bringing it home to Florida.”
Rizome bamboo thrives in Florida to meet the growing demand for wood products in the USA
Rizome began planting giant bamboo in south Florida in 2020, a boon to citrus growers looking for new cash crops as their trees are devastated by disease and low-cost imports squeeze profits. Smith says that the first harvests will occur in 2026 with an annual yield of 100,000 tons per 1,000 acres of planted bamboo. “This gives us enough time to ramp up from an initial manufacturing center to a full-scale production facility in North America,” he said.
Timber supplies have been affected by wildfires and pests that kill trees, but demand for wood products continues to grow. “Bamboo is the ideal alternative to wood, but there hasn’t been a reliable and sustainable supply chain in North America,” said Smith. “Bamboo is unusually resilient, it thrives on degraded land, it likes warm climates, and it survives wildfires and drought. What’s needed is a reliable and sustainable supply chain. This is where we come in.”
Smith said the biggest challenge was finding suitable giant bamboo species. It took several years to locate and identify the right species. Rizome ultimately discovered the perfect place to start was the Philippines, the only Southeast Asian country where industrial use for bamboo hadn’t developed. “They consequently had giant bamboo that is perfect for what we need, and that made the country the ideal location to test our cultivation and manufacturing techniques,” said Smith. “It was also the perfect place for us to prove our carbon tracking methodologies.”
Bamboo draws down 10x more carbon than a forest of the same area, creating a secondary opportunity for Rizome
With bamboo logs maturing in three to five years, then regenerating to their full height of up to 100 feet within months after harvest, bamboo can sequester 400 tons of carbon dioxide for each acre planted. Additionally, one acre of bamboo produces the same amount of timber as 10 acres of trees.
“From the start, our goal was to save trees. To do that, we needed to find a way to build a sustainable supply chain for timber-grade bamboo,” said Smith. “We’re proud to announce we’re doing it.”