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Green manufacturing takes aim at global billlion dollar market

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12 Apr 2011

A new manufacturing process using organic fibres to make planks for shipping pallets has been supported by the Federal Government.

Developed by Biofiba Limited, based at Gosford, NSW, and now with funding from CSIRO’s Australian Growth Partnership (AGP), the process will help the company win a share of the global pallet market worth billions of dollars a year.

Wooden pallets take up a large slice of the world’s timber consumption. While there are several environmentally sustainable processes being developed, most export pallets are used once and then consigned to landfill where they slowly decompose.

The AGP program - funded through the Federal Government’s extension to the CSIRO’s Flagship initiatives - was created to offer funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in an area of national priority. The program offers between

$500,000 and $2 million per SME and allows businesses to purchase CSIRO research and development capability.

Announcing the funding, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said Biofiba’s technology would allow production of timber substitutes from organic fibres and natural starches.

“The raw materials come from renewable sustainable resources and pallets made from Biofiba composites will break down into Earth-friendly, natural matter - delivering significant environmental advantages over traditional wooden pallets,” Senator Carr said.

“The Gillard Labor Government is pleased to support programs like AGP because they provide a focused and customised way to overcome technology challenges.

“To be able to use the resources of the CSIRO to deliver this type of solution that has the capacity to improve Australia’s triple bottom line, is an exciting prospect.”

The CSIRO will invest up to $1.97 million to fund a collaboration through its Future Manufacturing Flagship to tailor the material formulation and high speed production.

Biofiba’s Managing Director, Laurence Dummett, said the company was attracted to the AGP program because it could deliver a combination of benefits.

“The CSIRO’s Future Manufacturing Flagship has the facilities to develop the commercial process and to validate the products’ biodegradability. AGP offered us access to this and funding as well,” Mr Dummett