“Nationally, this research is a key step in developing technology which could help New Zealand meet climate change targets and transition to a low-emission economy.”
New Zealand has unveiled funding for research that could lead to the country’s first commercial bioplastics facility being established.
Last week, New Zealand’s Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced that the Manawatū-Whanganui region, based in the lower half of the North Island of the country, would get a $380,000 boost from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
The funding will be used to research whether radiata pine could be used in developing a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastics, with the aim of developing a high-tech bioplastics pilot plant alongside new timber processing facilities in Marton, a town in the Rangitikei district of the Manawatu-Wanganui region.
The facility would be developed by NZ Bio Forestry, a new entity that aims to increase productivity in the forestry sector and build a bioeconomy. The OECD has estimated the potential contribution of a thriving bio economy to New Zealand’s GDP at up to US$124 billion in 2030.
The New Zealand Government wants to keep its wood in-house and ship less raw logs overseas in order to process more of this material domestically.
“We also know that trees play a huge role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions not just by absorbing carbon, but through innovative use of wood fibre,” Jones said.
“Research led by NZ Bio-Forestry Limited could lead to New Zealand’s first bio-plastics facility in Manawatū-Whanganui, and put NZ Radiata Pine at the centre of solving recycling challenges.
“Nationally, this research is a key step in developing technology which could help New Zealand meet climate change targets and transition to a low-emission economy. For the wood processing industry, this would lead to increased productivity, new jobs, and growth across many regions which could also use the technology.
“Given the majority of forests in Manawatū-Whanganui are on iwi-owned land, there is also an opportunity for this project to improve economic returns for Māori.”
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