Global industry continues transformation – next steps in Australia

To support the continued efforts to transform the Australian economy to a more sustainable footprint, a new Industry Transformation Research Hub has been established at the Bio-resource Processing Research Institute of Australia (BioPRIA) at Monash University.

The hub – Processing Advanced Lignocellulosics into Advanced Materials (PALS) – will receive AUD6.8 million of funding over the next five years to accelerate and extend the existing research activities of BioPRIA.

After almost three decades of operation, what was once the Australian Pulp & Paper Institute, is now BioPRIA, but continues to be supported primarily by Australia’s pulp and paper manufacturers. Pulp and paper companies have long been at the forefront of what is described as the ‘circular economy’.

As IndustryEdge’s Tim Woods* commented at the launch of PALS in Melbourne in late-October:

“…ours is one of the original circular economies…

“We make our own renewable energy, delivering large quantities back to the grid, recover our pulping chemicals, recover and recycle close to three quarters of our production and back at the other end, ours is the income that plants the next trees.”

Funding includes AUD2.65 million from the Australian Research Council, AUD2.65 million from supportive industry and AUD1.5 million from Monash University.  The industry supporters include major local producers, Australian Paper, Norske Skog, Orora and Visy.

The funding will support research to convert wood residues, plant-based matter and other biomass into products like hydrogels for personal medicine, nanocellulose films to replace non-renewable packaging, as well as nanogels to help farmers maintain crops. It will also look for breakthroughs to create new renewable products that can rival single-use plastics.

As the Director of BioPRIA, Profesor Gil Garnier said at the launch:

“Ten years ago, Australia had some of the cheapest sources of energy, water and quality fibers in the world. Now, we might well have the most expensive energy and water, with a more limited supply of fibers.”

Professor Garnier added that those advantages no longer existed, but that:

“Fortunately, the Australian Bioresource Manufacturing industry has always shown strong leadership and commitment to research, development and advanced training.”

Operating some of the largest and most sophisticated bio-resource processing facilities in Australia, pulp and paper manufacturers are among the best-placed of existing businesses to participate in the acceleration of the local and global bio-economy.

All futures are uncertain, but an industry that takes charge of its own future has brighter prospects than those that fail to do so.

You can learn more here.

 

* Tim is Chairman of the Foundation that provides industry financial and strategic support to BioPRIA. The full text of his speech at the launch can be found here.

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