Two businesses in Queensland’s timber forestry region will share in more than $600,000 of state government funding to investigate projects that will transform waste into products.
Laminex Australia will receive $559,000 via the state’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program (RRIDP) to conduct a feasibility study into an energy cogeneration plant at its fibreboard manufacturing facility.
According to State Development and Manufacturing Minister Cameron Dick, the business currently produces 310,000 metric metres of fibreboard (MDF) and laminates approximately seven million square metres of MDF and particleboard each year.
“Laminex is already a major employer in the region, and we’re committed to helping them create more jobs for locals,” Mr Dick said.
“The proposed plant would support the electricity and thermal energy requirements for Laminex’s entire Gympie fibreboard manufacturing facility.”
Mr Dick said 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,” Mr 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.”
Addtionally, Queensland’s largest forestry plantation company HQPlantations (HQP) has been awarded $50,000 through the $5 million Waste to Biofutures Fund, to help test the use of forest-floor materials as feedstock for a biomass plant.
Mr Dick said HQP is the largest forest plantation owner in the state, with around 200,000 hectares of timber forests, more than half of which comprise the Fraser Coast pine plantations extending from east of Gympie to near Bundaberg.
Mr Dick said over 1.25 million tonnes of timber is 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,” Mr Last said.