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QLD awards industry development grants

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.

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New abilities for Ipswich waste operators

New amendments to Queensland planning safeguards have been approved by the state government and will give waste operators across Ipswich the ability to reduce impacts on the community.

Buffer zones and other safeguards for residents living near new or expanded waste facilities in Swanbank and New Chum were implemented through a Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) amendment from Queensland Planning Minister Cameron Dick.

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“These changes allow waste operators to bring forward new ideas, such as waste to energy solutions, to improve their existing operations and reduce impacts on the community and environment,” Mr Dick said.

The changes followed industry and council feedback on it current operation, with the expansion of the safeguards also including Ebenezer, Willowbank and Jeebropilly industrial areas.

“While these TLPIs regulate development applications for these areas, Council will use the two-year interim period to amend their planning scheme to address community concerns over the impact of waste facilities,” Mr Dick said.

“Development applications may be given favourable consideration by the Ipswich City Council where it can be clearly demonstrated, with a high degree of certainty, that improved amenity, environmental or community outcomes are able to be achieved.

“Both TLPIs complement actions already being undertaken by the Environment Minister with the newly formed Waste Management Stakeholder Advisory Group and Odour Abatement Taskforce,” he said.

A $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program is due to be released later in 2018 to develop a high value resource recovery industry in Queensland.

Member for Jordan Charis Mullen said the government had consulted with the Ipswich City Council for their comments on both TLPIs.

“I am very pleased the TLPI’s are now in place and community concerns have been addressed while we use the next two years to work with the department to progress amendments to the planning scheme,” Ms Mullen said.

Waste Recycling Industry Association Chief Executive Officer Rick Ralph said industry and all levels of government have a critical role in addressing community concerns while maintaining the waste industry’s ongoing business aspirations.

“We are committed to realising council and the state government’s future direction on waste, and to reshape Queensland to become Australia’s leading secondary resources and recycling state,” Mr Ralph said.

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