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Bioplastics another avenue for sugar diversification.



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Senator Ron Boswell National Party - Queensland

Bioplastics another avenue for sugar diversification Media Release - 15 April 2004

Research on sugar based bioplastics and ethanol production from cane waste being undertaken by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology (CRC SIIB) could provide further new hope for

struggling Australian sugar farmers, according to Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell.

Visiting BSES research facilities at Indooroopilly today, Senator Boswell said the research being undertaken at the centre was outstanding. “This is the way of the future; these emerging products reduce the world’s dependence on carbon based

fossil fuels and replace a carbon emitting product with a clean green, biodegradable one.”

“I believe the combination of world class research and innovation and the exceptionally high quality of Australian sugar syrup, will lead to major international corporations looking to establish bioplastic operations in Queensland’s sugar growing areas,” Senator Boswell said.

“Bioplastics produced from sugar cane is one of the options for diversification, presented by sugar industry proponents, along with other new sugar-based products such as ethanol.

“The Nationals have won the fight to put an Australia-wide framework in place to enable ethanol proponents to get their new industry off the ground.”

“The Australian Government has provided support for ethanol through $37 million in capital grants and an extended 8 year excise-free period and I am confident this tax-payer support will be justified by the significant future benefits for regional Australia,” Senator Boswell said.

“Today’s visit is about having a closer look at, and promoting the use of bioplastics - and the benefits that can be derived from their production in Australia for the sugar industry, and for the country as a whole,” Senator Boswell said.

Senator Boswell said that bioplastics, produced from natural ingredients like corn and sugar syrup, instead of petroleum products, were biodegradable, renewable resources already being used internationally in the manufacture of experimental products as diverse as shopping bags, car dashboards and medical prosthesis.

“I support viable bioplastics production from sugar cane as an avenue to be pursued to provide another pillar of support for Australia’s struggling sugar industry, along with the production of ethanol.”

At the research centre, Senator Boswell also viewed the latest advances in producing ethanol from biomass and cane waste leading to a much more efficient and price competitive production method for ethanol.

Senator Boswell believes the emergence of viable ethanol and bioplastics industries will help to rebuild the economic base of sugar communities, bushwhacked by a low world price and foreign subsidies.

“Neither ethanol or bioplastics production should be sold as a ‘magic wand’ solution to the problems facing the sugar industry, but they both have long-term potential to provide much-needed diversification, and subsequent increases in profits to Australia’s 6500 sugar farmers,” he said.

Senator Boswell said that a diversified sugar industry, producing products like ethanol and bioplastics, would complement the Australian Government’s revised sugar industry assistance package, which was currently being negotiated.

ENDS

Media Contact - Wendy Whittaker 07 3001 8150