Qld timber industry to investigate waste-to-resource opportunities


Wednesday, 12 February, 2020


Qld timber industry to investigate waste-to-resource opportunities

Queensland is investigating ways to transform waste streams into products and create new jobs for the state, with two timber businesses receiving state government funding to conduct waste-to-resource feasibility studies.

Laminex Australia at Toolara will receive $559,000 via the state’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program (RRIDP) to conduct a feasibility study for an energy cogeneration plant at its fibreboard manufacturing facility. Forestry plantation company HQPlantations (HQP) has been awarded $50,000 through the $5 million Waste to Biofutures Fund (W2B Fund) to help test the use of forest-floor materials as feedstock for a biomass plant.

Laminex currently produces 310,000 m of fibreboard (MDF) and laminates approximately 7 million m2 of MDF and particleboard each year.

Minister for State Development and Manufacturing Cameron Dick said if the project was to proceed it could create 50 construction jobs and 10 new operational jobs.

“Laminex is already a major employer in the region, and we’re committed to helping them create more jobs for locals,” Dick said.

“The proposed plant would support the electricity and thermal energy requirements for Laminex’s entire Gympie fibreboard manufacturing facility.

“Laminex will draw from a wide selection of waste resources as feedstock for the cogeneration plant, including demolition wood waste and green waste. Once operational, the cogeneration plant would divert up to 100,000 tonnes of waste from landfill annually,” he said.

Laminex Group Executive General Manager Justin Burgess said the company — which last year expanded its manufacturing operations in Gympie — wanted to continue backing the regional community and reduce its carbon footprint.

“To do this, we need to ensure our flagship plant continues to be at the forefront when it comes to using innovative energy-efficient equipment,” Burgess said.

“Supported by this grant funding, we expect to use up to 100,000 tonnes of biomass otherwise destined for landfill to generate electricity and thermal energy for production processes, achieving the highest possible energy efficiency.”

HQP is reported to be the largest forest plantation owner in the state, with around 200,000 ha of timber forests — more than half of which comprises the Fraser Coast pine plantations extending from east of Gympie to near Bundaberg.

Dick said more than 1.25 million tonnes of timber are harvested annually from the area, so being able to turn the waste from this work into energy would deliver strong economic and employment outcomes for the region.

“Queensland’s southern pine plantations support an estimated 1670 primary production and processing jobs, and for every job created by the forest and timber industry, another job is indirectly created in the broader economy,” he said.

“If we can help unlock new revenue streams for our plantations and associated timber businesses, local communities that rely on our forestry industry will reap the benefits of the seeds being sowed.”

HQP Science Manager Ian Last said treating treetops and other offcuts as a resource rather than waste is a research priority for the company.

“The Queensland Government’s funding will support field trials, including further sampling to better define residues, as well as trialling residue recovery equipment such as mobile in-field chippers and grinders,” Last said.

Dick said Queensland’s growing resource recovery and biofutures industries are creating new research, investment and supply chain opportunities for the state.

“The Palaszczuk government is committed to supporting projects and businesses that divert waste from landfill, produce new bioproducts and create jobs,” he said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/clsdesign

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