Friday Offcuts 7 October 2022
We often talk about innovation and the adoption of new technology to improve business performance and to “remain in the game” or competitive. Australia’s Productivity Commission has just produced an interim report on the current state of innovation across Australian businesses. Truly innovative businesses in Australia are estimated to make up only 1-2% of the total. It’s the other 98% where the focus needs to be put and they’re suggesting that the principal vehicles for acquiring and transferring knowledge – what’s referred to as diffusion – have slowed or stalled. Diffusion they say has the potential to lift the performance of over a million businesses. If interested, a link to the full report from the Productivity Commission is contained in the story this week.
In forest technology news this week, we’ve built in an article (with link to the full review) looking at some of the challenges that forest companies face using drones operationally in their forest estate and how many of these can be overcome by using beyond visual line of sight UAV operations. This is going to form part of one of the hands-on workshops being planned for local foresters as part of next month’s ForestTECH 2022 event. We've also included a piece from Rolf Schmitz, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the forests data analytics company, CollectiveCrunch, in which he discusses how advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence can be used by companies to better estimate their resources.
In wood products or processing technology, a Finnish wood producer has teamed up with Stora Enso to produce their new bio-based Zero Particle Board using a wood-based binder as a glue. Following the roll out commercially of this new furniture board, the plan is to then extend the range of their bio-based products into plywood. And in northern Canada, wood drawn from the thousands of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle that’s often uneconomic to process is being turned into a high-value beetle kill engineered wood product. The name of the company behind the new product is as unique as the raw material itself, Deadwood Innovations.
Finally, we'd like to remind you of our upcoming technology events next month. Early-bird discounted registrations finish TODAY for the mass timber construction conference, WoodWorks 2022 ( Register here). And for the regions annual forest technology event, ForestTECH 2022 early-bird conference registrations to both the Rotorua and Melbourne events finish in two weeks ( Register here). We recommend you register your team NOW to avoid disappointment and we look forward, after several years of major disruptions, to actually meeting up with many of you in person this year. That’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
AU$120m investment for new plantation estateThe Victorian government is investing in a new plantation estate in Gippsland to plant millions of trees to maintain the state's timber supply and reduce emissions.
An AU$120 million investment will fund the plantation of 16 million trees in regional Victoria in collaboration with Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP), who are expected to match the state government's investment. The trees will be planted on 14,000 hectares across Gippsland — and the state government says it will "underpin" 2,000 new and existing jobs in regional Victoria.
In 2019, the state government announced it would cease large-scale native forest harvesting in state forests by 2030. Once approved, plantings are expected to begin next year and should lead to all harvested trees being sourced from plantations — an increase from the current 83 per cent.
HVP chief executive Stephen Ryan said the plantations would be on greenfield sites. "This is an eight to-10-year program. So, we'll do it in a very calculated manner that won't cause any disruption to the market," he said.
"We won't be going after prime agricultural land either — we can't afford that, and we don't need it. There has been no expansion of the softwood plantation industry in Australia for over 20 years” Mr Ryan said.
For further coverage on the announcement, click here and here.
Innovation by the many, not just the fewWith only between one and two per cent of Australian businesses producing new to the world innovation, consideration must be given to how to help the other 98 per cent adopt and adapt existing technologies and practices to improve performance and productivity.
“Policy has traditionally been focused on cutting edge invention, but there are likely to be bigger gains in encouraging every day, incremental innovation across the vast majority of Australian businesses,” Productivity Commission Deputy Chair, Dr Alex Robson said while launching the third interim report in the 5-Year Productivity Inquiry.
“There are worrying signs that the principal vehicles for acquiring and transferring knowledge – what we refer to as diffusion – have slowed or stalled. While previously we could have relied on labour mobility and investment in machinery, equipment and intangible capital to spread ideas, these have all been either stagnating or declining.
“Diffusion has the potential to lift the performance of over a million businesses.”
The drivers for diffusion are less about specific government funding programs than about getting broad market settings right to create a vibrant business environment. This includes a more open trade and investment regime and recognition of the value of skilled migration as a source of new ideas.
“At the individual business level, things like managers' ability to exploit existing innovation, increasing knowledge through recruitment decisions, leveraging industry bodies to connect firms with information about new and better ways of operating, and linkages with universities beyond direct commercialisation can all drive productivity and improve performance,” Dr Robson said.
“For example, information about advances and how businesses are tracking compared to industry best practice needs to be taken up more broadly. Many businesses undertake little or no assessment of their performance, even though this is a major motivator and route to improvement.
“When we think about innovation, the government sector is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet innovation is becoming increasingly important in this growing and large part of the economy, particularly in areas like health and aged care.
“General government spending amounts to nearly AU$900 billion or over 40 per cent of GDP, with much of this – some AU$445 billion – spent on delivery of services to the Australian community.
“Innovation in government services is often slow, piecemeal, disorganised, and inconsistent across jurisdictions. Yet it is critical for the quality and value for money of services. Many of the ways we could achieve diffusion of new processes and approaches in government services are well known but under-exploited. Even small gains from diffusion and adoption in the public sector will improve outcomes or realise billions of dollars in better services or cost savings.”
The Productivity Commission is now seeking input on the interim report 5-year Productivity Inquiry: Innovation for the 98%. Submissions can be made at www.pc.gov.au and close on 21 October 2022.
A copy of the Interim Report can be found here
Source: Australian Government Productivity Commission
Digital Data - the key to sustainable forestryForestry and climate change challenges require a far more efficient, data-intensive approach than the current status quo.
Forests are critical to fighting climate change, based in part on their ability to absorb carbon dioxide – the primary greenhouse gas threatening our planet. However, trees aren’t just for reducing carbon emissions; they are renewable resources and sustain biodiversity. That’s why understanding more precisely how forests develop, regenerate, and are harvested is key to the planet’s sustainability.
In order to manage our forests for a more sustainable future, we need insights into the planet’s forests at scale. This calls for digitizing these vast, analog spaces. Through advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI), companies that manage forest inventories or produce wood-based products can better estimate these rich resources.
Sustainable forestry rests on three important pillars: circular economics, carbon offsetting, and biodiversity. Striking a balance among the three is important, but so is the ability to measure success across all three using data.
Circular economics. Harvesting forests for raw materials is as old as mankind, and although mankind has had a spotty track record in doing so responsibly, harvesting forests for raw materials will continue to be important — even to the world’s sustainability. Wood- and paper-based products play a key role in replacing less sustainable, plastic-based products and packaging. Such products are biodegradable, and the trees harvested to create them are replaced with new trees. In a circular, sustainable forestry model, they’re used, reused, recycled, and regenerated.
Carbon offsetting. Offsetting has become a critical tool in counterbalancing the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. By investing in, protecting, replanting, and managing forest growth, companies sponsor through credits the capture of CO2 to offset their emissions, effectively reducing their carbon footprint. For carbon credits to be viable, and to avoid “green-washing”, the forest inventories of carbon projects need to be measured and tracked. Currently too many carbon projects have questionable foundations.
Biodiversity. In the process of moving toward a circular economy and carbon offsetting, sustainable forestry also needs to promote biodiversity. There will always be a need for fast-growing, commercial tree plantations — forests planted and managed to support circular industries or large-scale carbon capture — but they should be balanced with diverse forests. Biodiversity helps maintain the natural resilience of forest ecosystems and ensures their longevity for generations to come — the very definition of sustainability.
With the understanding that sustainable forestry rests on these three pillars, it’s important to understand the challenges the industry faces in strengthening them, such as:
Circular economics needs to be more efficient. When it comes to harvesting, production, and recycling, better analytics improves performance. For example, better knowledge of the quantities, locations, and timings of harvests, as well as the production of precisely what the market needs, are critical to sustainable forestry. It’s been shown that maximizing the value of forests and targeting only the wood resources producers need can improve margins of forest owners up to 7 percent.
Carbon offsetting needs to be reliable. The voluntary carbon trading market is growing fast, but participating companies are at reputational risk if they claim carbon neutrality based on credits that can’t be supported by real-world conditions. Tracking carbon-capture projects using state-of-the-art technology is key not only to ensuring such projects achieve the desired, climate-saving results, but also to proving to the ecosystem of interested parties — corporations, regulators, NGOs, the public — that they do. Such tracking needs to make use of the scientific and technical resources available today.
Biodiversity needs to be measurable. Promoting diverse forest conditions that support a more sustainable planet is essential to creating natural resilience against the impacts of climate change. Several years ago, it was common to see single-species tree afforestation used to establish fast-growing forests. Such projects need to include additional, indigenous species at different growth stages to support wildlife habitat survival and guard the variety of life. All forestation efforts must be held to their claims through rigorous monitoring and verification. This requires incorporating biodiversity products, such as species mix and keystone species, into everyday forest management. The challenge of measurable biodiversity is translating these products into reality accurately and at sufficient scale.
Addressing these challenges takes a far more efficient, data-intensive approach to understanding forests.
By Rolf Schmitz, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of CollectiveCrunch
September NZ log market updateMarket Summary
At Wharf Gate Prices for export logs increased 7-8 NZD per JASm3 across ports in New Zealand in September. The increase in AWG prices was again due to reduced shipping costs. Shipping costs have now stabilised. There is pressure on CFR log sale prices in China due to the strengthening USD, reducing the purchasing power for Chinese buyer. Domestic logs prices in New Zealand are unchanged.
The PF Olsen Log Price Index increased $5 in September to $125 which is $1 above the two-year average, $3 above the three year-average and $1 above the five-year average. The September index is $7 above the one-year average, which shows that log prices have been well below average over the last year.
Domestic Log Market
Domestic log prices have been stable with little change as most domestic pricing is agreed at least quarterly. Domestic demand for sawn timber continues to be consistent. There is an oversupply of pruned logs in the central North Island, but all other regions seem to be in balance.
Export Log Market
China’s softwood log inventory has reduced by about 1m m3 over the last month to be below the 4m m3 mark (3.8-3.9m), with radiata accounting for about 3.2m m3 of this volume. Daily port offtake has increased to about 70k-75k m3. The reduction of inventory is due to significantly reduced supply. The Chinese Golden Week Holiday to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 starts Oct 1st and ends Oct 7th. There will be less people travelling than usual again this year due to Covid-19, so this means the reduction in log demand caused by this disruption to work is likely to be less than previous years.
There is a wide range of CFR sale prices for radiata logs in China. A grade currently sells between 136 and low 140’s USD per JASm3 for A grade. The difference in sale price between the better grades and lengths versus the lesser desired grades and lengths has also widened. The weakening of the CNY against the USD means log sales will most likely trend towards the lower end of this range. Uncertainty around future currency movement is also a legitimate concern for Chinese log buyers.
The August Caixin China Manufacturing PMI decreased to 49.5 from 50.4 in July. Output grew at the softest pace in three months, as delivery times lengthened for the second month in a row due to power cuts and disruption from Coronavirus. Both new orders and buying levels fell for the first time since May. Employment fell for the fifth month running, with 20% of youth in urban China now unemployed.
The value of residential construction in China made up 63% of the total construction value in China in 2021. This share is forecasted to be about 50% for 2022. Residential construction will continue to be restricted due to ongoing deleveraging reforms on property investors, with no growth predicted in residential property construction in 2023. Market analysts predict an increase of commercial property construction and infrastructure projects for 2023. This assumes fewer and shorter Covid lockdowns.
Local government special bonds are becoming an important funding source for construction in China. This funding source has risen from funding 25% of construction in 2021 to 39% in 2022. The Ministry of Finance has announced a target of special bond issues of 3.65 trillion CNY. Approximately 95% of this spend is targeted for infrastructure projects.
If Covid lockdowns ease and temperatures reduce in China, productivity will increase. While log demand won’t return to its previous heights, global log supply is also limited. The actual balance between log supply and demand is still unknown due to Covid and other external influences. Now the strengthening USD will add further uncertainty to this market.
Source: Scott Downs, Director Sales & Marketing, PF Olsen Ltd
Carbon market barriers removed for new timber plantationsThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s consultation process to remove regulatory barriers preventing new timber plantings participating in the Emission Reduction Fund’s (ERF), AFPA Acting Chief Executive Officer Victor Violante said this week.
“The Federal Labor Government has taken a significant step towards delivering on its election commitment to scrap the ‘water rule’ with the release of a consultation paper on changes to the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015,” Victor Violante said.
“The ‘water rule’ prevents plantation forestry and farm forestry project access to the carbon market in areas with annual average rainfall above 600mm – thereby holding back much need investment in new timber and fibre plantations in most timber processing regions.”
AFPA has been campaigning to remove this regulatory barrier for many years, as access to the carbon market will be a key driver for growing Australia’s timber plantation estate. New plantations are urgently needed to help Australia meet its future timber and wood fibre needs and make a significant contribution to Australia’s emissions reduction targets.
The removal of the ‘water rule’ would be a big step to open up potential new investments and get new trees planted. “Recent AFPA-Master Builders Australia research highlighted that Australia will be 250,000 new house-frames short of demand by 2050 if Australia’s doesn’t achieve the billion new trees by 2030 goal. That’s cities the size of Newcastle and Geelong combined. Furthermore, Australia has the golden opportunity to ready itself for insatiable international demand for sustainably sourced wood and fibre, with global demand forecast to quadruple by 2050.
AFPA also acknowledged the previous Government’s progress in removing the ‘water rule’ in several key forestry regions. The changes proposed in the discussion paper will see the regulatory barriers removed in the remaining forestry regions, including Queensland, Central West NSW, South East NSW, and the Northern Territory.
“The removal of the ‘water rule’ would be modest and sensible reform to encourage investment in new timber and fibre plantings in key strategic forestry areas nationwide. We encourage anyone with an interest in ensuring we have a sustainable supply of timber and wood fibre to support the removal of the ‘water rule’,” Victor Violante concluded.
Mental wellbeing resources from SafetreeSafetree has some forestry-friendly resources to support good mental wellbeing:
• Where to get help: Contact details for organisations that can help if people are struggling
• Tailgate health cards: Simple fact sheets covering key health issues including depression
• Fatigued or Fit for Work: Information on how to identify and prevent fatigue
• Vitae Services: Access to discounted counselling for people in forestry
• Forestry's top wellbeing risks: See a list of the biggest physical and mental wellbeing risks in forestry
• See what's happening for Mental Health Awareness Week
Featured Safetree Certified Contractor: Tony Brand
Forestry is full of family businesses. In this video, NZ contractor Tony Brand talks about his Canterbury-based business, where his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two sons also work. Tony describes how he's tried to build a safe, professional operation, that's a good place to work for his family and everyone he employs. What about your workplace? Would you be happy for your family to work there?
New Executive GM, OFO Wood Products AustraliaOneFortyOne is pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Bloomfield to the newly created Executive General Manager Wood Products Australia role. Mike has held the position of General Manager Sales and Marketing at OneFortyOne since 2017. In this time, he has had a significant impact on the growth of OneFortyOne’s Wood Products business in domestic and international markets.
Mike’s strong commercial successes complement extensive operational leadership. In addition to Mike’s nine years in the wood products industry, he also has a decade’s worth of experience leading a large Ready-mix concrete business, responsible for performance, people, capital projects and safety.
In making the announcement, Acting CEO Peter Brydon said “This appointment comes at an important time for us. OneFortyOne’s Australian Wood Products business is now of a scale that we have appointed a senior executive to bring together the operational, sales and transport parts of the business”.
“Mike has delivered outstanding business performance and customer focus whilst navigating significant levels of complexity in recent years, managing pandemic and supply chain elements. In his new role Mike will bring commercial and operational expertise to ensure Wood Products Australia continues to operate consistently, delivering high quality products”.
Mike Bloomfield said “The Wood Products operations, transport and sales teams have dealt with many market pressures, through it all reliably delivering high quality products to our customers. It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to lead the Wood Products Australia team and I look forward to working with them.”
Source & Photo: OneFortyOne
Slash pile probes seek the heatSpontaneous ignition of a forestry slash pile fire can cost forest companies up to NZ$200,000 or more, so the development of a probe tool to monitor temperatures before piles catch fire is a game changer.
In logging operations, the process of creating logs from trees results in debris – sawdust, broken branches and logs, needles and cut-off ends of logs. This debris is swept into a slash pile that decomposes into soil over time. Occasionally however, decomposition results in the debris pile reaching very high temperatures and spontaneously igniting.
Concerned about a repeat of slash pile fires, and with no way of knowing which piles were hot, Wenita Forest Products (an Otago-based timber producer) sought assistance from Scion. With funding through MBIE’s Extreme Fire research programme, Scion’s rural fire research team, together with industrial design company inFact, developed a slash pile temperature monitoring system that sends real-time temperatures to the internet via a satellite.
John Kerr, forester at Wenita, says the probes are a practical solution that perfectly suited Wenita’s needs. “The probes have been extremely useful and they’re easy to use. Most slash piles don’t cause any problems, but the odd one does and monitoring them the old way, by driving out to inspect them, used to be very time-consuming. These probes mean the suspicious piles can be monitored anytime from almost anywhere, which is brilliant.”
The system is made up of long temperature probes that are pushed into the slash piles and connected to a satellite transmitter. The slash pile temperature can be monitored by a smartphone app or website from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.
Wenita staff deployed and monitored the prototype probes in their forests from November 2021 to assess the risk of spontaneous combustion in 11 slash piles. The probes found six very hot piles with the hottest internal pile temperature in excess of 90°C with a high risk of spontaneous combustion.
Scion’s rural fire experts, Veronica Clifford and Grant Pearce, consulted on how to manage these high-risk areas, including safely opening up and reducing the height of the piles. In a recent report commissioned by Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) and prepared by Scion, forest companies reported that the costs associated with suppressing even relatively small skid site fires can range from NZ$30,000 up to more than NZ$200,000.
Senior scientist Dr Richard Parker says the economic, environmental and social impacts of wildfires are huge and any technology that reduces the risk is highly beneficial.
“This new slash pile temperature monitoring system can help remove the risk of spontaneous ignition of slash fires in forestry operations around the country and prevent fire outbreak. Now, Wenita can gain real-time knowledge of the temperature deep within their slash piles. They can monitor piles on wet, dry and warm days and take action if the temperatures rise. They can also look at long-term trends in temperature and discontinue monitoring when the piles have cooled,” he explains.
Following the successful trial with Wenita, the Scion team is investigating opportunities to work with a commercial partner to develop the system into a market-ready product.
Source: Scion Research
Victorian Forestry Plan undermined for remaining millsThe Victorian Government has released the Victorian Forestry Plan’s Sawmill opt-out Scheme and at the same time, the Threatened Species & Communities Risk Assessment (TSCRA) that outlines further new protection areas to be applied to the effective harvest area on top of 100,000 ha of protections already in place. The area available for native timber harvesting is now less than 2% of Victoria’s public forests.
“The Andrews Government’s actions are totally undermining any industry confidence that it would be able to guarantee supply timber until 2030, as promised, and on the face of it, appears to be forcing mills to leave the industry that they love – all right before the November election,” Chief Executive Officer of VFPA, Deb Kerr said.
“The Government’s exit package has come at a time when many mills have been operating with very little timber supplies for months, with some mills mothballing operations due to lack of supply. Now the Government has confirmed that it is reducing sawlog supplies by 45% from 2024 and further reducing the effective harvest area by expanding protection zones for threatened species,” Deb Kerr said.
“Victoria’s sustainable native forestry industry operates on just 0.04% of the forest each year and for most of 2022 has been held to ransom through the courts by litigious green groups. Mills and their workers are stressed about their future and have little confidence in the Government’s promise to guarantee supply until 2030.
“Less than a month ago, VFPA-commissioned polling results showed almost 7 in 10 respondents supported the Government committing to the native hardwood industry up to and beyond 2030. Two-thirds of respondents said it was important that the next Victorian Government continue to access native forests to supply hardwoods where longevity and appearance are valued traits by consumers. Obviously, the Government isn’t in line with community expectations.
“These announcements show little regard for the very people who have been bearing the financial and emotional brunt of the Government’s phase out – the mills and their workers,” Deb Kerr concluded.
 Effective harvest area removes areas previously included but are unable to be harvested, e.g. gullies and steep slopes.
Source: The Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA)
Where’s My Drone? BVLOS for forest operationsForest environments are notoriously difficult for drone (unmanned aerial vehicle - UAV) operations. Aside from the trees themselves, hilly terrain, remote areas provide challenges for drone operators. Add in the complexity of technical, operational, and regulatory considerations in a forest environment and it becomes a challenge to operate UAVs in forestry when visual contact is not maintained.
A recently published review article shows how many challenges facing forest researchers and practitioners can be overcome using beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) UAV operations.
There are many applications of unmanned aircraft within planted and indigenous forests. These include wildfire monitoring and suppression, inventory and health assessments of forestry plantations, wildlife research, flora and fauna conservation efforts, dropping seed capsules, spraying of herbicides to kill invasive plant species, and dropping poisons and traps for pest control, among others.
UAV operations internationally are governed by aviation rules that restrict their range to areas in which the pilot is able to maintain visual line of sight with the craft in order to manage potential risks.
The article was authored by Robin Hartley (Scion), Isaac Henderson (Massey University School of Aviation), and Chris Jackson (Jackson UAS Limited). Each author provided their unique contributions of expertise related to forestry, aviation safety, and unmanned aircraft operations. The article was published in Drones and was selected as a feature article for the journal’s Drones in Agriculture and Forestry section.
Lead author, Mr Hartley, explains the significance of the contribution. “I have been researching the idea of BVLOS in forest environments for a few years now and one thing that has struck me is that there has not been any single place for practitioners or researchers to look if this is something that they are considering.
Collaborating with Isaac and Chris has been great as between us we have been able to pool our collective resources into an article that will be a very useful starting point for others who are wishing to follow in our footsteps and/or apply it to their operations.”
The article emphasises how BVLOS UAV operations help overcome the challenges of operating in the forest environment.
Mr Hartley explains, “Having flown UAVs in a variety of forest environments for the past six years, I have a very good understanding of the frustrations that can come with trying to maintain visual line of sight. It is generally standard practice to do a desk-based assessment of an area, or even a field trip prior to accepting the work to see whether it will even be possible to capture data there with a UAV.
We have experimented with various methods for maintaining visual contact by raising the pilot up into or above the canopy, however, this is not always possible and so BVLOS has always appealed as an effective way to apply UAVs to almost any sites.”
The article also outlines the international regulatory environment related to BVLOS UAV operations and some of the technological, operational, and other considerations that need to be taken into account when taking a risk-based approach for conducting such an operation.
The full article is freely available here
Similar read: Exploring the ways drones can be utilised in the forestry sector
Source: Tools for Foresters
Leaps and bounds in forestry safetyThe NZ forestry industry is broken – or at least it was, before the establishment of the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC). ecoPortal Chief Executive Dr. Manuel Seidel speaks with two of its key leaders.
Forestry has suffered from extreme serious injury rates and unusually high fatality rates.
Thanks to two key leaders, the industry is making a turnaround – albeit slowly – towards a stronger safety culture focusing on people’s safety at heart, over profit. Fiona Ewing has recently stepped down from her role as head of FISC, a 7-year endeavour, where she’s helped lead tangible cultural change in the sector, ensuring that important safety conversations take place.
Mike Cosman, renowned in the New Zealand health and safety space, is a key thought leader and safety expert, whose safety review of the forestry industry was the catalyst for FISC’s establishment. When asked why he came on board commissioning the forestry industry review, Cosman’s reply is simple: “Basically, fascination.”
Fascination for an industry so fundamental to the New Zealand economy, yet one that’s a notable anomaly statistically with soaring fatalities and serious injury rates. While forestry contributes over a whopping $6 billion to the New Zealand economy annually, the industry also contributes a tragically high number of fatalities, alongside serious injuries.
Cosman’s review sought to gain a tangible understanding of what all the moving parts were in the forestry industry, to determine exactly why – and how – such overwhelming statistics were normalised. They needed both an in-depth probe along with a bigger-picture, systems-wide focus to truly discern the underlying issues.
The review was instrumental in bringing together an array of stakeholders in the industry, who traditionally rarely interacted with each other. The initial aim of the review was to gain a holistic understanding of where all the moving parts are in forestry, notably who had influence, made decisions, and who was interested in finding solutions to the high-risk environment.
Source: Industrial Safety News
Revolutionary bio-based Particle BoardKoskisen is a Finnish wood industry company producing sawn timber and panel products, such as birch plywood, furniture, and construction boards made of chip board. Koskisen uses Stora Enso’s bio-based binder, NeoLigno® by Stora Enso, to replace fossil-based resins used in furniture boards. Both the furniture board raw material and the binder are made of wood and sourced from the production process flows of both companies. This results in all raw materials of the Zero Furniture Board being bio-based.
“Our experts have been working together with Stora Enso to come up with this brand-new bio-based product offering. Koskisen constantly looks for opportunities to optimize its CO2 balance. One of the biggest sources for CO2 emissions in our production are the binders that we use in the panels, as they are traditionally fossil-based. The co-operation with Stora Enso has offered us a unique opportunity to address this issue: the lignin-based NeoLigno® makes the Zero Particle Board bio-based.
It is an excellent opportunity to bring something new into the market. Being bio-based, Zero Particle Board is an excellent example of a circular economy product. At Koskisen, the main raw material of the panel, wood chips, come from our own production. Similarly, Stora Enso gets lignin from their Sunila pulp mill in Finland, extracted in connection to pulp production. Combining these two ingredients, we can bring something new and valuable to our customers.
“We have now been working with Stora Enso for two years, and we are finalizing and optimizing the production of Zero Particle Board in Järvelä, Finland. Our target is to launch the commercial product and deliveries to our customers in autumn 2022. Once we have launched the furniture board to our customers, our intention is to extend the use of NeoLigno® also to plywood. I am very much looking forward to extending the range of our bio-based products,” says Koskisen’s CEO Jukka Pahta.
“Consumers are very eco-conscious and are aware of their health and indoor air quality. NeoLigno® is a unique ingredient for indoor furniture, that is equally safe and reliable as it is sustainable. With Zero Furniture Board, we can fulfil our customers’ requirements for indoor air quality, as well as for low-carbon products. The glue in wooden panels has been non-renewable for decades”.
“It has been very cost efficient and hard to replace with bio-based materials. We have studied different bio-based options for years at Koskisen, and now we have been able to take big steps forward with NeoLigno® by Stora Enso. It is the most promising binder in bio-based gluing, and the first bio-based binder that can be integrated into our product,” says Eemi Valjakka, Product Manager at Koskisen.
Tuning ‘dead wood’ into lumberDeadwood Innovations, of Fort St. James, Canada, in a joint venture with the Nak'azdli Whut'en First Nation, has a unique, pilot-scale mill based in the former Tl'Oh Forest Products mill in the northern B.C. community.
The B.C. government is working with the group to fund the development of a commercial-scale plant that, proponents say, could turn waste wood into commercial lumber. A key source for the wood is the thousands of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle, which caused the closure of the Tl'Oh mill in 2014.
Deadwood Innovations, the company claims, has developed a patent-pending process that crushes and presses pieces of dried conifers in a way that maintains fibre orientation and length as close to how it naturally occurs as mechanically possible. This intentional fibre arrangement retains the best qualities of natural wood and engineered wood products.
The result is a high-value beetle kill engineered wood product that is free of rot, knots, checks and voids, Deadwood’s president explained. The provincial government has provided $200,000 over the past two years to help develop the technology and to build the larger plant.
Design of the new commercial-scale plant is expected to start this September. The technology focuses on using materials left over from logging and forestry, wood damaged by pine beetles, and fire-damaged trees. By using material that is normally burned in slash piles, it will reduce waste and carbon emissions from the forest sector, according to Deadwood Innovations president Owen Miller.
“We can take low quality, small diameter softwoods that are cracked, impacted by pine spruce beetles, or burned in a fire with a layer of charcoal on the outside. Our process doesn’t care,” said Miller. “We can transform that into an engineered wood product that is of varying dimension and density.”
Target species of wood include those that are underutilized, like aspen and northern hardwoods, because they normally don’t have uses that make economic sense. If it proves commercially viable, it is estimated that the Deadwood plant would provide 25 permanent full-time jobs and 30 part-time or seasonal jobs.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the Darwin Awards
An oldie but a goodie. It's that time again. The Darwin Awards are out.
On that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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