top of page


A look inside the world of rapidly renewable materials. 

Founder's Interview, Looking Back at 2023 Looking Forward to 2024

Although the global economy tends to slow down in 2023, but in some industries by virtue of regional policy support and industry chain adjustment, we can still see some enterprises swimming against the current.

altPlus by virtue of industry advantages and technical strength, in 2023 to break through the difficulties to become a dark horse in the industry in 2024 will inevitably have a broader stage. Let's follow the founder, Mr Eric Rupert, as he takes a look back at altPlus in 2023. 

Eric Rupert

altPlus Chief Executive Officer Co-Founder

Looking back at the development of the bamboo industry in 2023, what are your observations?

Although altPlus touches many segments of the bamboo industry, the industry as a whole is quite a diverse topic, so I’ll focus on our main categories of influence. First, taking the view from an outsider perspective, the bamboo industry in 2023 has perhaps seen more attention then in any previous years. This is a result of an ongoing momentum from trade organizations, governments, and social concerns as conveyed in the media, to reduce our reliance on plastics and other non-renewables. Whether the material use is industrial, consumer facing, or in energy, the bamboo industry has received increased coverage due to policy and public discussion around sustainability initiatives. Major voices, for example, at COP28 are targeting initiatives that the bamboo industry can directly support, as well as government specific policy as demonstrated by the Central Government of China’s policy of replacing plastic with bamboo. These high level discussions will support the advancing of the industry as a whole – if for no other reason than awareness and adoption. That said, there are provincial level programs in China focused on the development of the industry with ties to the incentives for the market to use bamboo materials in a range of available applications. Internationally, products with low-carbon scores and those in agriculture fiber products, have reduced tax burdens. It all points to an industry that is positioned to be a major contributor from the regulatory and public perception domain during the transition to a more integrated bioeconomy. 

In saying all this, the grounded reality of the bamboo industry is still, often in constraint. Challenges in standardized supply, product technology, manufacturing technology, awareness and understanding on the buyers side, all contribute to bottlenecks of what's possible and these need to be overcome to be able to achieve impact at scale. 

Focusing on the architectural and construction industry,  although taking a difficult turn as a whole, engineered bamboo has seen public highlights from major demonstrations in the the performance applications. Specifically the opening of Bangalor International Airport Terminal 2,  a highly visible architectural project and the largest single application of engineered bamboo. Additionally , within China, a number of low-rise buildings using LVB in structural application have been completed. These all bring awareness to the capacity of engineered bamboo materials in the built environment.  However, these products are still limited when compared to similar biobased, wood products and their impact globally which to us indicates that there is much room to grow, as the pressure is not to replace wood  products but to support the growing need for embodied carbon systems in the built environment. Wood and bamboo products are the obvious choice for sustainable performance solutions. 

Impacting the industry in the near-term is likely to be the growth in the the use of bamboo fiber and pulp applications. In 2023 there was a breakthrough in terms of scalability of the fibre separation technology (mechanically) which lends to cost effective, performance products in biopolymer, fiber and pulp related mould pressed products. Additionally, major industries in daily goods, packaging, consumer products and further, are configuring downstream manufacturing assets to allow production processes to use higher percentage of bamboo fiber, bamboo powder and bamboo pulp materials to supply sustainable, low-cost materials to existing product lines, analogous with other agricultural fibers. This has a high potential to change the consumption of bamboo materials and we expect to start to see this in 2024. 

What is the development of altPlus in 2023?

In hindsight I think we setup 2023 to be a pretty challenging year, not only due to our own ambition but in part due to the general conditions of our operating environment in 2022, and the market challenges. 

We have achieved significant milestones in our architecture and construction industry, especially in China Mainland. Through our altPlus Projects division we have delivered on structural programs, large architectural cladding programs, and complex architectural design support and delivery programs, all while working with teams across the world and always in new product applications.

These programs are most often, delivered top to bottom by altPlus, making them much more complex than simply following the specification that someone else created. We start from the beginning with budgeting, specification development, project management, detailed designs, shop designs, manufacturing and execution on site. The team has delivered in a measured way, completing - directly  - over 100,000 square meters of architectural cladding and beginning the footsteps of structural programs with over 300 cubic meters of structural materials, designed, manufactured, delivered and installed. Even more challenging was the project team alignment with the number of projects in the pipeline. The projects team works on over 80 projects in various stages of architectural and construction, which often include structural calculations, custom design nodes, non-standard solutions to material connection systems, and treatments. Altogether, our team has prepared for a scaled 2024, where we will see an economy that is challenged, but we are still driven by our sustainable, bio-material brand of projects, which will have laid the foundation for accelerating even more engineered bamboo systems into the industry. 

In addition to our altPlus Projects business unit, we had formally expanded our operational and product scope with the altPlus Fibre and altPlus Resources divisions. Both of these divisions are complimentary and an extension of our existing business and have been operating without name, in service of our business until now.  We expect that through these units we will see large-scale material adoption develop, which will be a catalyst to reducing costs and driving real impact in scalability across all divisions. 2023 had required a number of elements to go correctly for this development to happen. In (altPlus) Fiber, we needed to confirm the scalability of mechanical separation of fibers, which we had achieved. The capacity is close to 50 tons per day. Also necessary was the target for increasing compounding percentages of bamboo fiber with polymer which we had achieved soltions from 20~60% bamboo and agricultural fiber. These two developments allow us to unlock the potential of bamboo fiber, pulp and biopolymer products which can be used in performance products, consumables, and beyond all which may scale quickly and consumer high volumes of rapidly renewable bamboo, replacing a high percentage of petrochemical mass and other less effective, less renewable alternatives.

Finally, at the turn of 2023, we had started the construction of altPlus Nakou, which is a 7000 square meter facility in Fujian, home to our M Series engineered bamboo manufacturing. We started with one team member and grew from there, following the construction of the building, manufacturing and assembly of the major machining equipment, subsequent delivery, assembly and tooling of all machines. Construction was completed in April and was a success, our team had performed well but we were hit with set backs stemming from the new equipment. But is because of these challenges that led us to further our vertical alignment with our own machine capacity as well as our own machine development capacity. Although we have lost some time this year to achieve production capacity, we will gain this back in the acceleration of the advancement of these production lines.

The biggest challenges for businesses in 2023 are ?

The challenges for 2023 were predicated by the challenges of  2020-2022,  the local environment and global economic situation, especially in a few of our focus industries architectural and construction, and our ambition to grow operations. At the end of 2022 we had to significantly change our team structure due to all the previously mentioned. Although a major challenge through the year, the pain has been necessary and useful in developing more focused roles and developing new talent in areas which will drive the product development direct from production to market. Efficiencies that are needed for us too to make decisions quicker and move the materials and products faster all stem from our operational changes. So although we took this as a big challenge in 23, we understand that this will benefit us greatly going forward and we have already seen those benefits.  

The  production challenges from (altPlus) Nakou were a compounding issue, and in hindsight we should not have relied on partnerships for critical outcomes, but now our team has built out of resilience, our own capacity from forest to machining and this need has developed other skills and proficiency that are propelling the production team to new levels which will push our 2024  Expectations. 

Expectations for 2024

I think we should expect to see a 300% increase in structural engineered bamboo programs, potentially.  Three to four times increase in architectural coverage with now over 200,000 square meters of programs in our projects division that are being designed, developed.  We should expect to see an increase from our altPlus EB Materials division with the target  of  3000 cubic meters of our M Series LVB materials delivered to international markets. This will start to roll out in March of this year.  

Our most significant changes will be seen in our altPlus Fiber and altPlus Resources divisions. Fiber has over 4000 metric tons of materials in pipeline for biopolymer and mold pressed products. Our resources division will see  a dramatic increase servicing the market with over 75,000 metric tons of biomass. These will all significantly advance the industry even in light of the challenging economic times that we are expecting and observing. If we are to advance our transition to the bioeconomy based on the initiatives from our clients and the organizations that we are working with, then I would suggest that the pressure needs to be maintained and we need to target even higher. The trends are positive and optimistic, but will not be achieved without innovation and relentless emphasis.


bottom of page