The latest Survey published by the Container Owners Association on “Alternative Flooring Systems for Shipping Containers” shows a rise in the use of bamboo for container floors, as an alternative material to tropical hardwood plywood.

Bamboo has emerged ahead of other alternative flooring systems, such as plastic/composite and larch/birch hybrid,as the most popular, in terms of availability and price – and it is the only alternative to tropical hardwood plywood being produced in any significant volume.

It is estimated that, in 2013, a total of 720,000TEU (out of a total container production of 2,400,000TEU) were fitted with bamboo floors, representing 30 percent of the year’s total dry container production. This shows an increase on the previous year, when some 650,000TEU of dry containers were fitted with bamboo floors.

There are four principal suppliers of bamboo floors, all based in China, and they have a wide range of customers, with their products being used in open top and 45ft European containers, as well as 20ft, 40ft and 40ftHC dry boxes. As a bamboo floorboard has the same dimensions as tropical hardwood plywood floorboards, it can be installed in a container without any modification to container production lines and replaced by plywood floorboards if damaged in service and no bamboo replacements are readily available.

In addition to summarising developments in the industry over the previous 12 months, the latest COA Report provides a comprehensive review of the container floor materials currently available, It also give full details of alternative floor material suppliers and also provides a table in which alternative materials are compared.