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CASE STUDY: Achieving a positive impact - how sustainable is bamboo?

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Project background

Bamboo is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to cotton in the production of clothing. Bamboo is the foundation on which BAM Bamboo Clothing have built their brand, working on the basis that bamboo is a sustainable product. BAM have set an aspiration to become an ‘Impact Positive’ company; this means that they are not just reducing the negative impact of their activities on the planet, but ensuring that their activities have an overall positive impact.

In order to achieve this, they needed to understand the environmental and social impacts of the bamboo supply chain to recognise where there might be risks and opportunities.

CASE STUDY: Achieving a positive impact - how sustainable is bamboo?

What we did

ADAS worked with BAM to carry out a high-level environmental and social impact assessment of bamboo production in China, where BAM is sourcing the bamboo used in its clothing.

Seven key areas were assessed:

  • Productivity
  • Water requirements
  • Biodiversity impacts
  • Land use requirements
  • Pesticide usage
  • Carbon sequestration potential
  • Social impacts

Under each category we conducted a search of current literature. Using this literature and our agricultural expertise, we identified the key sustainability issues and potential ‘watch outs’ that should be considered as BAM starts to engage more closely with their bamboo supply chain.

Our assessment concluded that bamboo has the potential to be a highly sustainable crop. It has low requirements for artificial fertiliser, pesticides, or irrigation water if grown in the right place and in the right way. Extensive production in well-managed natural forests has the potential to support biodiverse forests and provide a good income to the local community. However, there are threats to the sustainability of bamboo if grown in the wrong place or under inappropriate management.


To ensure BAM is sourcing sustainably produced bamboo, ADAS developed a series of questions for BAM consider when interacting with their bamboo supply chain to ensure that the bamboo they are using has minimal negative environmental and social impacts. BAM have recently published their first sustainability report which our assessment contributed to; click here to see the full report.

How ADAS can help you

With consumers waking up to the impact of how their clothes and other textiles are made, it is important for retailers and manufacturers to understand the key sustainability risks in raw material supply chains. To find out more about how ADAS can help you improve the sustainability of your textile products visit our sustainable textiles service page.

Charles Ffoulkes

More information

For further details about this case study, and to see how we can help you, please contact:

Emily Mason: Senior Sustainable Food Consultant – Sustainable Food and Farming, ADAS


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