Friday Offcuts 9 July 2021
Although not being produced in large quantities in this part of the world, WPCs were first introduced into the decking market back in the early 1990’s. Production has been centred largely around Europe and North America. To date, most composite decking products used in Australia have either been imported or produced by one other WPC manufacturer who's been manufacturing WPC products in Australia since 2001. The new manufacturing operation will provide much needed scale to this product line (with WPC products being made available in both Australia and New Zealand) as well as providing a much needed boost to plastic recycling in the State.
We’ve recently outlined plans around a series of pre- conference workshops that have been set up with industry for this year’s ForestTECH 2021 event. This week we’ve included more details of the eagerly awaited programme for the end of year technology update which will run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 23-24 November (and live streamed to an international audience). This year it will again be covering innovations around forest resource management, remote sensing, data capture and forest inventory in addition to forest establishment, mechanised planting and automated silviculture. Further information, including the two-day and workshop programme, can be found in the story below or on the event website.
And finally, we’ve often covered in this newsletter initiatives being launched and underway to attract people from diverse backgrounds and different capabilities into our industry. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Primary Industries has taken a closer look at how the forestry workforce is changing in terms of numbers, qualifications and diversity. They’ve also looked at new entrants to the industry, who are they, where they come from and how long they’ve stayed in the industry.
It’s interesting to see that in 2019, 18% of the forestry workforce were women. New entrants to the industry though were 21 percent women (and we suspect that this figure has climbed substantially since the data was collected). As well as diversity, an area obviously needing to be addressed is the retention level for new entrants, with only 38% still in the workforce after two years. The reports are an interesting read. The links are contained in the story below. And on this note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
New Australian bio composites plant announcedAustralia's Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, Tasmanian Minister for Environment Roger Jaensch and Member for Bass Bridget Archer MP announced a Grant to support Timberlink to build Tasmania’s first Bio Composite plant. The grant was awarded from the Tasmanian Recycling Modernisation Fund (Plastics) Grants Program (RMF).
The Bio Composite plant will produce Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) products that will upcycle plastic waste and plantation timber mill residues, producing decking and screening for commercial and residential applications. This technology will enable Timberlink to manufacture a wide range of WPC products over time.
The Timberlink Wood Plastic Composite Plant intends to source the recycled HDPE (a type of Plastic) for the core of the product from Tasmania; utilising existing industry capability and ensuring that the feedstock for this plant where possible is a Tasmanian on-island solution. This will significantly enhance the circular economy in Tasmania and generate economic value to Tasmania as these products will be sold in Tasmania and the mainland.
At full production, the project will divert HDPE plastic from landfill at an equivalent to an approximate 83% increase over current HDPE recycled in Tasmania based on FY19 levels said David Oliver, Timberlink’s EGM Sales, Marketing & Corporate Affairs.
The project capital cost is AU$12m and the Federal and State Government have co invested in this project with an AU$5.8M grant to create this new industry in Tasmania. The project is shovel ready and will commence immediately. Timberlink intends to have the project completed and in production by December 2022.
The energy to power the plant will be sourced from Tasmanian Hydro Power and a solar farm located on the roof of the new facility. Rainwater tanks will be installed to harvest rainwater which will be used for cooling in the manufacturing process. This is a first for Tasmania and Australia. We are excited that Bell Bay will be the location for such a new and exciting investment for Australian Manufacturing.
Photo: Timberlink EGM Sales, Marketing and Corporate Affairs with Member for Bass Bridget Archer MP and Tasmanian Minister for Environment Roger Jaensch and announcing the project and joint federal and state government grant at Timberlink Bell Bay on 2 July 2021
About Timberlink Australia/New Zealand
Timberlink is a leading Australasian timber products manufacturing business. The business has two sawmills at Bell Bay (Tasmania) and Tarpeena (South Australia) that manufacture plantation structural pine products. Timberlink has sales and distribution teams based in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne and sales teams based at the Bell Bay and Blenheim sawmills. Timberlink is owned by investment funds managed by New Forests.
ForestTECH 2021 programme now outEvery year one major forest technology series is run in this region. It’s designed by and for Australasian forestry resource managers, inventory foresters, researchers and tech developers. It’s the one event every year where remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists, and for the first-time last year, tree crop and silvicultural managers - get-together.
It’s independent. It’s run by this region’s leading forestry technology events company, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). Amidst the uncertainty of events in the COVID-19 environment, we’re delighted to announce that like the 2020 event, ForestTECH 2021 in November is ON.
The format for the annual technology series that’s been run in both countries since 2007 has though this year been slightly modified. The format again will enable planning with some degree of certainty for ForestTECH 2021 delegates, presenters and exhibitors.
So, what’s the format?
1. One location. Like 2020, the physical event (on-site presentations, exhibitions and workshops) will again be run in just one location this year, Rotorua, New Zealand.
2. Live links from the New Zealand event will be set up for those unable to travel into Rotorua. With the uncertainty still surrounding international travel and whether borders will be open, the live virtual linkage will ensure international delegates can still actively be involved this year. Last year, a record number of international delegates from over 20 countries were able to pick up this option. On-line questions from virtual conference delegates will be able to be made to all presenters - live.
3. Two distinct themes. This was trialled last year for the first time. Overwhelmingly the written feedback told us to keep with this same split in focus for 2021. In addition to the usual technology updates on remote sensing, new data collection technologies and forest inventory management, a second day will be focus on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. European technologies are already well advanced and are being trialled and used commercially on flatter terrain by larger forestry companies in both New Zealand and Australia.
4. Increased international involvement. In addition to New Zealand presenters, key technology presenters and forest companies from Canada, Finland, Germany, South Africa, Chile and Australia will all be presenting this year.
5. Additional half-day workshops. Three additional half-day pre-conference workshops for those delegates attending Rotorua have been set up for delegates. Details on each are contained on the website.
Note: Programme details and further information can now be found on the event website.
Latest Primary Industries workforce data availableNew Zealand’s MPI has recently posted the latest (2019) Primary Industries workforce numbers from IDI (Stats NZ Datalab) data. The links to the reports are:
1. Future Skills Page
2. Primary Industries workforce fact sheets (A4 Summaries by sector)
3. Part 1 : Main Workforce Summary. (including employment counts by sector, qualification levels by sector, field of study by sector/gender/levels, ethnicity by age bands, employment type by age bands, gender by sector & age profiles)
4. Part 2 : Regional workforce summary. (including employment counts by region, máori employment count by region & qualification levels by region)
5. New Data on Monthly Composition of the Primary Sector workforces over a year
Large build-up of anchored log shipsThe build-up of log ships anchored off Gisborne continues as Eastland Port catches up on a backlog of exports caused by heavy swells and restricted access during wharf repairs. About a dozen log ships were visible at anchor on Tuesday morning.
Eastland Group chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum described it as the biggest build-up of ships at anchor off Gisborne since World War 1 when coastal shipping was at its peak. Log exports were resumed at the weekend when heavy seas subsided. The logger Taikoo Brilliance was loaded over the weekend and sailed early yesterday afternoon. Within an hour, another ship, the AC Kathryn, was brought in and docked to start loading.
Mr Gaddum said restricted access to the export berth through June due to wharf repairs and poor weather contributed to the backlog. “The forestry industry is working to find practical solutions for the increasing demand on a single log berth,” he said. “As a group we have implemented some processes and we will continue to collaborate on more initiatives and efficiencies to ease the pressure on the forestry industry.
“This situation also highlights the importance of the Twin Berth Project, which will help future-proof the port. It will allow two logging ships to berth at once, making operations twice as efficient.”
“This is an evolving situation and Eastland Port will provide further updates in the coming days,” Mr Gaddum said. The New Zealand Herald reported on Tuesday that it would take about a month to clear the backlog of ships. Additional factors involved in the backlog included bulk freight being knocked out of kilter worldwide by the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on supply chains, and logging companies ordering surplus capacity.
Demand for logs from China has been running hot and the port was on track for the biggest year in its history, Mr Gaddum said. “We’re in the throes of a bit of a gold rush at the moment,” he said. Idle logging ships were costing their owners about NZ$35,000 a day.
The Scandinavian way to zero-carbon constructionQuiet, clean and green are not words you would typically use to describe a construction site. But the site at Olav Vs gate, one of the busiest streets in the heart of Norway's capital city, Oslo, was special. In a first of its kind in the world, all the machinery used on site – excavators, diggers and loaders – were electric.
Work began on the site in September 2019, converting what was once a hectic turning zone for the city's taxis into a new pedestrianised area. Locals may have initially raised eyebrows at what appeared to be just another inconvenient construction site, but soon it was clear there something very different about it. In fact, this was a pilot project for the first zero-emission urban construction site in the world.
"When I visited the zero-emission construction site I was extremely impressed," says Mark Preston Aragonès, a policy advisor at environmental non-profit Bellona. "I was looking at these big excavators that you generally associate with fumes and noise and general annoyances, but on this site, when the operator turned it on you couldn't tell the difference between when it was on or off. It was really impressive to see such big machines make such little noise."
Decarbonising the construction industry is something in which Oslo wants to lead the world. And it's with good reason. At present, the construction sector alone is responsible for more than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of construction is even more evident when looking at CO2 emissions from energy use – with the sector contributing 38% of the world's emissions.
The city now wants all municipal construction sites to be zero emission by 2025 and all construction work, public or private, to be zero emission by 2030. Six more of Norway's biggest cities have also recently committed to the same goals as Oslo. Norway has the rare benefit of an electricity grid with 98% renewable energy, most from hydropower, which makes the country an ideal testing ground for zero-emission sites.
Nevertheless, the pilot project in Olav Vs gate is a statement to show the industry that an emission-free construction site is achievable and will, according to Oslo, be the future standard. To move things forward, the City of Oslo has been using its purchasing power as a strategic tool. Since 2019, public tenders for construction work, for example roads, schools, nursery homes, water and sewage pipes, have been awarded to those building with zero-emission machinery and trucks.
Another innovation looking to increase efficiency and reduce waste is modular construction. The process is where a building, or parts of it, are constructed off-site, which brings its own advantages. In Denmark and the Nordic countries, given they are located in the northern part of Europe with limited daylight in the winter months, builders don't have much time out in the field. Instead, many of the buildings are using a lot of prefabricated elements. This is a trend that actually reduces waste.
"When it comes to modular construction, safety, productivity and environmental impact, all of those things tie together," says Jochen Teizer, associate professor in the department of civil and architectural engineering at Aarhus University. "If I do offsite fabrication and then ship it, I improve all of those things; reduce the waste in the assembly process but also increase the safety for the workers. That's another advantage."
But while innovations like electrification, digitisation and modular construction are all helping the industry to decarbonise and reduce waste, they don’t always work together at the same time.
WoodWorks 2021 Update: With Shambeel Eaqub as a keynote speaker speaking on the carbon benefits of mass timber for building, New Zealand's WoodWorks 2021 Conference will be a treat for local architects, engineers, specifiers, building project managers, designers, quantity surveyors, BIM specialists, engineers and wood producers. It's running in Rotorua on 21-22 September.
The conference brings together leaders in architecture, engineered wood design and construction. Register now to secure your place on the Red Stag CLT factory tours – seats are strictly limited and will sell out fast. Details and online registrations are on the event website.
100 million trees and countingWith Forestry Corporation gearing up to replant nearly 3,000 hectares of Bathurst State forests this year, Silviculture Supervisor Bill Klower is looking forward to seeing the start of another forestry cycle. Bill started work in the forestry industry in 1963 in Oberon; a decision that led to him to enjoy nearly six decades working in the forestry industry and overseeing around 100 million seedlings planted in the Bathurst region in the past 30 years.
Over this time, he has seen three seedling-to-sawlog rotations, delivering timber essential to building Australia's homes and houses. He started as a chainman working for a surveyor on 18 February 1963, at a time when a lot of work was needed to locate forest boundaries. "The State forests had no boundary fences back in the day, so there was a lot work to be done to establish where forests actually started and finished," Mr Klower said.
"I was 16 years old at the time and had just left school, so the surveying work was a good opportunity. We'd leave home on Monday mornings and stay at one of the forest camps for the week. Some of the single workers lived there permanently, but most of us would head home again for the weekend. At the start of the workday, we'd be bundled into the back of a truck and driven to the worksite. There weren't many vehicles around at the time, so the truck would leave and come back at the end of the day to pick us up."
Over nearly six decades, Bill has seen great change in the industry. "The biggest change is safety; there was virtually no attention to safety when I started, and now it is the key principle of what we do. There is also a bit more paperwork," Bill jokes. "There was only one form when I started - the sick form."
Some things don't change though, with seedlings still hand planted to ensure they are given the best chance to survive. Since 1988 Bill has worked as a planting supervisor, overseeing around three million seedlings hand-planted each year since in the Oberon and Bathurst areas. Those trees planted under Bill’s watch 33 years ago are reaching maturity now and being harvested for structural timber to build homes.
Source: Forestry Corporation NSW
Hydrogen units to power local sawmillPatriot Hydrogen has revealed that it will be supplying its Patriot P2H hydrogen units to Sweetman Renewables to power its sawmill in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Sweetman will purchase one initial P2H unit with plans to increase that figure to 15 over the next two years.
The P2H unit have been designed to supply green renewable hydrogen to domestic market with Sweetman planning to use the green hydrogen-rich syngas to drive a purpose designed generator to power the Sweetman Sawmill operations.
With this, the P2H unit will have an initial green hydrogen production target of one tonne per day with an anticipated scale up in production within the next three years. The output of a single P2H unit driving a local generator is said to produce approximately 750kWh of dispatchable power, enough to nearly fully power the whole Sweetman plant, significantly lowering operational costs and alleviating the need for the company to rely solely on the power grid.
This is advantageous in remote locations or wherever companies can utilise locally derived biomass waste to produce its own power, lowering reliance on the grid for power.
Patriot Hydrogen to supply Port Anthony with hydrogen units. Read More >>.
The Patriot P2H hydrogen unit utilises waste and biomass to produce hydrogen or syngas as a fuel to power an engine driven generator set to deliver base load electricity in regional locations. As well as this, the whole plant can be relocated to different operational sites making it suitable for mining and agricultural operations.
NZUs continue to climbThe price of NZUs have increased by more than 24% since the beginning of last month – hitting $46 on both the Commtrade and Carbon Match platforms mid-week. At the beginning of June NZUs were trading for $37 on the secondary market – up from around $24 in May of last year.
At $46 NZUs are fast approaching the $50 trigger point that would see up to 7 million extra units released under the Cost Containment Reserve at the next NZU auction in September. The Climate Change Commission recommended that the cap be lifted to $70 as soon as practical in its final advice to the Government. A spokesperson for Minister for Climate Change James Shaw says no decision on when the cap will be lifted has yet been made.
In its weekly newsletter, Carbon Match said NZU holders seemed to have little appetite for selling. It reported that sellers who had sold prior to last month’s NZU auction had expressed regret at having sold below the auction’s clearing price of $41.70. Meanwhile the market has steamed on, with buyers paying asking prices, and sellers pulling back or lifting their asking prices.
Some natural sellers point to the strength of the log market, with many forest owners telling us they're not under pressure to sell NZUs right now anyway. And for those that are in the market to sell, the much higher carbon price has seen budgeted NZU volumes get scaled back in response.
Carbon Match, Carbon News
Plantation trees store more carbonA new international study in a global scientific journal has recognised plantation trees as the best source for storing carbon and providing climate change mitigation in comparison to other types of tree plantings.
The peer-reviewed Nature Communications journal has published a study that plantation trees deliver almost three times more carbon abatement over 100 years than environmental plantings, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Ross Hampton said.
“This study confirms that trees planted for harvesting will deliver more benefits for the environment than trees planted for environmental purposes. The climate implications are significant, up to 269% more carbon is captured by plantation trees and 17% more than achieved by leaving a newly planted fast-growing conifer forest unharvested.
“There are programs in Australia that provide incentives for farmers to plant biodiversity plantings for carbon purposes but no programs that incentivise farmers to plant plantation trees. This must be rectified, the biggest asset to Australia’s storage of carbon is being left on the side lines.”
We already know that when trees are manufactured, they continue to store carbon, now we also know that as plantation trees grow, they store more carbon than any other type of planting. Plantation trees are necessary to fight climate change and move towards net-zero by 2050.
See the study here.
Timber super-load travels from VIC to SAThe City of Mount Gambier claims the longest single glulam timber beams ever shipped to Australia – spanning up to 42 metres – were recently loaded on to two trucks. The heavy vehicles made the journey from the wharf in Port Melbourne to the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre construction site on Margaret Street in Mount Gambier on 22 June 2021.
Thirteen full length glued laminated timber beams measuring 42 metres and two segmented beams were produced by German timber engineering project specialist, Hess Timber, the pool hall within the AU$57.3 million Wulanda development. The single large timber spans required for the roof meant the European Spruce product was sourced from overseas as the length was unable to be manufactured in Australia.
“Understanding the nature of the use of the facility, and what it means to the community over a number of generations, our priority was ensuring longevity of the build that would ultimately reduce long-term maintenance costs,” said BADGE Senior Construction Manager Mark Wyatt.
“This particular product was selected as it will not require joins, given its length will span the roof. Those joins are where moisture and chemicals from an aquatic environment can begin to damage structure over years of use, as would any plain timber product,” he said. The timber rafters were crafted at Hess Timber’s production facility in Kleinheubach, Germany.
A specialist freight contractor used two mobile hydraulic cranes to unload the beams from the ocean freight platforms and on to each truck which carried three to four timber beams each over four loads. “The truck consists of a prime mover at the front with a separated steerable jinker at the rear,” said Hess Timber Business Development and Projects Manager Tyson Infanti.
“The beams themselves span the void between the two vehicles and act as the trucks middle section,” he said – adding there are two multi-purpose bogies that carry four individual loads to the site.” The long and oversized loads measured 2.5 metres wide and 49 metres in length.
Code of Practice for Timber Production releasedAt a time when so many Melburnians are desperately seeking timber for homebuilding and renovations, the Victorian Government has finally moved forward on a vitally needed review that will ensure Victoria’s sustainable native forestry is managed to world best standards.
Last week’s release of the Code of Practice for Timber Production (the Code) for public consultation is an opportunity for the Victorian Government to fix the Code and put an end to green litigation in Victoria that has held up supplies of native timber.
“In 2014, amendments to the code opened the flood gate to a deluge of green litigation,” said Ms Deb Kerr, CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association. “Since then, native forestry in Victoria has been tied up with litigation including injunctions that prevents the harvest of timber in hundreds of forestry coups and placed tremendous pressure on timber supplies,” Ms Kerr said.
“And it doesn’t stop there, complaints to the Office of Conservation Regulator are either unfounded or are a small number of technical findings unrelated to endangered species protection,” Ms Kerr said. “The Victorian forestry industry expects the amendments to the Code to resolve the perverse policy outcomes that has held the Victorian native forest industry to ransom,” Ms Kerr said.
Source: Victorian Forest Products Association
Timber supply can't keep up with demandThe Australian federal government is being urged to intervene in the national timber industry, as the construction and forestry union forecasts the sector will not be able to meet demand fuelled by the national construction boom.
The Commonwealth's HomeBuilder program, which provides grants for people building or renovating homes, is being cited as one of the main drivers of construction activity across the country. The coronavirus pandemic has fuelled a desire in many Australians to search for more living space, but supplies of building products such as timber frames are simply not there to meet that surge.
Modelling by the CFMEU suggests the amount of construction across the country will require 2.1 million cubic metres of timber framing this year, but current capacity across the nation's sawmills is only sitting at 1.8 million cubic metres. A global construction boom is putting pressure on international supplies, hampering efforts to meet that 15 per cent shortfall with imports.
Bushfires that ripped through Australian plantations in late 2019 and early 2020 have also hit domestic forestry reserves.
"We need logs, but we also need enough sawmills and enough processors to process those logs as well" said CFMEU National Secretary Michael O'Connor. Some sawmills across the country are operating around the clock, awash with supplies, while others are struggling to access any timber and are fearful of collapsing.
Executive Officer of the Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia Kersten Gentle said it was a remarkable shift in fortunes for the building industry. "From what I've been told, Albury [in NSW] normally does 600 homes a year, they've already signed up 2,000 homes for the year," Ms Gentle said.
"You've got builders all around the country that normally would do 70 homes, they've signed up 200 homes; or builders that would do 2,000 homes have signed up 3,000 homes."
Ms Gentle argued it would have been hard to avoid the pressure on supply chains, considering how dire the situation was at the height of the pandemic in 2020. "This time last year, or even earlier last year, people were winding down their businesses thinking that the market was going to crash," she said.
"Nobody, nobody in Australia predicted that we were going to have this massive housing boom. The stress levels are through the roof."
NZ proposes new biofuels targetsNew Zealand is proposing a biofuels regulation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under which fuel suppliers will have to reduce emissions of the fuels they sell by a set percentage every year. The Sustainable Biofuels Mandate, which will apply to all transport sectors including aviation, is putting onus on fuel suppliers that sell more than 10mn l/yr (170 b/d) in New Zealand to reduce emissions through biofuel deployment rather than implementing a physical blending mandate.
The transport sector is the country's fastest growing source of emissions and responsible for 21pc of gross GHG discharge, posing a challenge to its 2050 carbon neutrality target, according to the consultation document released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Transport. The document outlines that electrification will not happen fast enough to meet the ambitious climate goals so biofuels represent an achievable low-emissions solutions and can play a transitional role in the interim.
This contrasts with their previously attempted 2008 quota that stipulated a 2.5pc biodiesel share in road transport fuels only but was repealed before it came into effect. The new offering provides greater flexibility while encouraging use of advanced feedstocks and higher quality hydro-treated vegetable oil grades with fewer lifecycle emissions rather than crop-based first generation biodiesel, according to the proposal.
An estimated 3.75 petajoules of biofuels will be supplied under the directive in 2022, 7.33 petajoules in 2024 and 11.08 petajoules in 2025. The proposal suggests cutting GHGs by 1.2pc from 2023, 2.3pc by 2024 and 3.2pc by 2025. This percentage reduction would be calculated by comparing the emissions of the supplier's fuels with emissions had all those fuels been 100pc fossil fuels.
But current limited domestic production will not be enough and the majority of volumes required will be imported in the medium term, though Wellington is investigating whether forestry waste could be used to boost homegrown biofuel output. Lacking incentives, the country has lagged in its uptake of biofuels that account for just 0.1pc of total liquid fuel sales compared with about 4pc globally. Submissions for the proposal are accepted until 26 July.
Source: argus media
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... and one to end the week on ...
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