Chinese firm turns panda poop into toilet paper
High in dense bamboo forests in the misty, rainy mountains of southwestern China lives one of the world’s rarest mammals: the giant panda, also called the panda. Only about 1,500 of these black-and-white relatives of bears survive in the wild.
Pandas eat almost nothing but bamboo shoots and leaves. Occasionally they eat other vegetation, fish, or small animals, but bamboo accounts for 99 percent of their diets. Pandas eat fast, they eat a lot, and they spend about 12 hours a day doing it. The reason: They digest only about a fifth of what they eat. Overall, bamboo is not very nutritious. To stay healthy, they have to eat a lot—up to 15 percent of their body weight in 12 hours—so they eat fast.
Pandas are shy they don’t venture into areas where people live. This restricts pandas to very limited areas.
When life gave one Chinese company giant panda poop, it decided to make paper-and profits. The Qianwei Fengsheng Paper Company in southwest Sichuan province has teamed up with the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda to recycle the animal’s faeces and food debris into toilet paper, napkins and other household products, state media reported yesterday. The goods, soon to be released on the Chinese market, will be marketed as part of a “panda poo” product line decorated with a picture of the bamboo-eating, black-and-white bear.
“They’re taking care of our garbage for us,” Huang Yan, a researcher at the giant panda center, told the Chengdu Business Daily. Huang told Xinhua state news agency that the 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of bamboo poo that adult pandas unleash daily are rich in fiber after absorbing the fructose from the shoots. In addition to their valuable dung, pandas also produce 50 kilograms of food waste every day from the bamboo husks they spit out after chewing.
While the process of turning bamboo into paper generally involves the breaking down of fructose to extract fibre, this step naturally occurs in the pandas’ digestive tract, the paper company’s president, Yang Chaolin, told Xinhua. Fengsheng will collect the faeces from three panda bases in Sichuan a couple of times a week. After it is boiled, pasteurized and turned into paper, it will be tested for bacteria before going on sale. Boxes of “panda poo” tissues will be sold at 43 yuan ($6.5) a pop. “Pandas get what they want and we do too,” Yang said. “It’s a win-win.”