Biofiba gains CSIRO support for its "green" pallets

19 April 2011

Gosford company Biofiba has received support from the CSIRO to develop its sustainable alternative to timber shipping panels – a market that is worth billions of dollars a year.

Biofiba's new manufacturing process uses organic fibres and natural starches to make planks for shipping pallets which are usually made of wood and take up more than 40 per cent of the world's timber consumption. More than six billion timber export pallets are sold globally each year, often used only once and then consigned to landfill where they slowly decompose.

Biofiba has received funding from the CSIRO's Australian Growth Partnership (AGP) which supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in areas of national priority. AGP offers between $500,000 and $2 million per SME and allows the business to purchase CSIRO research and development capability.

Announcing the funding, Federal Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said pallets made from Biofiba composites would break down into earth-friendly, natural matter – delivering significant environmental advantages over traditional wooden pallets.

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 AGP support 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," Mr Dummett said.

Mr Dummett said he expected manufacturing of the pallets to start in September this year in the Hunter Valley, to be followed by Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and later Asia.

The NSW Office of Trade, Business and Industry has assisted Biofiba to attend trade shows in Canada, China and Hong Kong and through its Tech Vouchers program.