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Biofutures – turning waste into jobs

Professor Ian O'Hara

Associate Professor Ian O’Hara has welcomed a 10-year Biofutures Roadmap consultation paper released today by the Queensland Government.

Biofutures – turning waste into jobs

QUT leading biorefinery researcher Associate Professor Ian O’Hara has welcomed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s release of a consultation paper on a biofutures industry in Queensland.
Premier Palaszczuk released the 10-year Biofutures Roadmap Consultation Paper today.
Professor O’Hara (pictured above) said it made sense for a state like Queensland which has a diverse agricultural base to build a future around bioproducts.
Professor O’Hara (pictured above) said it made sense for a state like Queensland which has a diverse agricultural base to build a future around bioproducts.
“The most common bioproduct we hear about is ethanol and there’s certainly huge potential for the development of ethanol here in Queensland but there are many more products that could also be developed,” he said.
“Plastics, aviation fuels, chemicals, fibre products and animal feeds made from agricultural waste all have enormous potential.
“Bioproducts can literally be made out of the wastes created when raw agricultural crops like sugar cane are turned into products for consumption, like sugar.
“It just makes sense to use that waste to create other products to provide higher income streams for farmers, create jobs for regional economies, diversify Queensland’s economy and in doing so put Queensland at the forefront of this new industry.
“In this day and age we should be thinking in a more environmentally mature way and this includes finding smarter ways of dealing with wastes.”
Professor O’Hara, who is based at QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, said biorefineries producing a wide range of products could be built throughout regional Queensland.
He said developments in industrial biotechnology were creating new industries around the world.
“Industrial biotechnology is the enabling science of the biofutures industry. With industry, researchers and government working together, Queensland can be a global leader.”
Professor O’Hara said there was already commitment to renewable bioproduct use from many sectors.
“The US Navy has a stated goal of powering 50 per cent of its fleet from non-fossil fuels by 2020,” he said.
“The commercial aviation sector has a target of carbon neutral growth by 2020 and 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2050.
“The bio-based chemicals market is forecast to grow from its current US$240 billion to US$570 billion by 2025. That’s a doubling of market demand within the next 10 years.
“Bioplastics are expected to grow to 10-20 per cent of the global plastics market by 2020.”
He said that a long term commitment was needed to ensure Queensland was a leader in these high-growth industries.
“It really comes down to this simple question,” he said. “Do you want to just create wastes or instead create an industry that will deliver income and jobs for the future?”
source : Queensland University of Technology

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