by | May 2, 2024

AFWI and Albanese Government launch $100 million project 

The future of sustainable forestry recently received a significant boost with the official launch of the Albanese Government’s $100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) program. AFWI is a collaboration between the Albanese Government and the University of Tasmania, committed to advancing research and innovation in Australian forest and wood products.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the University of Tasmania AFWI Headquarters in Launceston would support a local AFWI research centre, with further centres planned for the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Melbourne.

“Establishing AFWI was an election commitment which we are proud to deliver and forms part of our record $300 million investment in the Australian forestry and forest product sector,” Minister Watt said.

“This program will support sustainable forestry, while also helping to deliver a future made in Australia. It is an exciting time for forestry research as we work towards unlocking the full potential of wood as the ultimate renewable material and growing our forests and forestry industry.”

Minister Watt said the three centres will conduct research to enhance production forests and the wood products sourced from them – managing and sustainably expanding Australian forestry resources, transforming wood residues into renewable products and energy solutions – all while helping to address the threat of climate change.

“AFWI will draw on the best researchers and facilities across the nation to ensure Australia’s forest and wood products industries remain on the front foot, supporting applied research, development, and innovation,” Minister Watt said.

“We saw demand for forest products significantly increase during the pandemic – increasing production in our sustainably managed plantation estate and product recovery from our sawmills and wood and fibre processing plants will see us better positioned to meet demand into the future.”

The AFWI Board is chaired by Mr Bob Gordon and includes nine other members from the Commonwealth with industry and forestry research experience, an understanding of workers’ needs, as well as First Nations perspectives.

The University of Tasmania’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rufus Black, said the university was excited to bring world-leading research to answer questions that will help accelerate the role of forestry and wood products in meeting the challenge of climate change and building a circular economy.

“AFWI will provide the skills and knowledge to support sustainable production of wood products, protect biodiversity and multiple forest values, and ensure the national sector is at the forefront of innovation and climate action.”

“We are the number one university in the world for climate action, according to the Times Higher Education impact rankings, and we are committing to supporting the transition to a low-emissions global economy we need to make – wood must play a big part in that future,” Professor Black said.

For more information visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/forestry/national/australian-forest-and-wood-innovations

Celebrating AKD’s Caboolture Sawmill Expansion Project

The Associated Kiln Driers (AKD) recently announced the completion of the Caboolture Sawmill Expansion Project, marking a significant milestone. The official opening was held on March 6 and included AKD Caboolture employees and local ministers, Honourable Catherine King MP, Senator the Honourable Anthony Chisholm and Terry Young MP, to celebrate.

Completed in January 2024, the project has effectively doubled the production capacity of the Caboolture site. Currently the site is processing 370,000 metres cubed of locally grown sawlog. These upgrades have also enabled AKD to install the latest technology for improving the recovery of structural timber from the sawlog resource – enabling more houses in Queensland to be built with Queensland-grown timber. This initiative not only supports local jobs within the building supply chain but also aligns with a combined effort to reduce Queensland’s importing of timber and exporting of logs.

Included in the expansion project was the installation of an acoustic barrier which has improved the surrounding environment. This means that production can move to a two-shift operation with minimal impact on the local community.

The implementation of two shifts has created more than 100 new and permanent skilled manufacturing jobs at AKD’s Queensland site. The 100 new jobs in Caboolture will also support a further 763 jobs in the regional economy, according to REMPLAN modelling. The Project was possible due to a grant from the Federal Government’s Community Development grant scheme which supported a substantial investment from the AKD shareholders.

AKD Chief Executive Officer, Shane Vicary, expressed his gratitude, stating, “The project has secured the future of the Caboolture sawmill in Queensland. We are very thankful to the Federal Government and grateful for the support of the local Moreton Bay Council and our log supply partners at HQP.”

As AKD celebrate this achievement, the company looks forward to the continued success and growth of the Caboolture Sawmill, while also contributing to the prosperity of the local community and the Queensland economy.

Hyne Group Expands with the acquisition of Rodpak

The Hyne Group is pleased to announce that pallet manufacturing will soon be a part of the broader group operations, following the acquisition of Rodpak.

The announcement comes just over two years after the Hyne Group’s partnership with UK-based company, James Jones & Sons Limited, and the combined group’s focus on achieving growth and expansion. Rodpak is a Melbourne-based pallet and packaging manufacturer that, like Hyne Group, prides itself on strong sustainability credentials and a commitment to producing premium quality products.

Hyne Group Chief Executive Officer, Jim Bindon said the acquisition is an exciting addition for the company.

“Rodpak is a highly regarded business with a long history in the manufacture of softwood timber pallets, with quality equipment and technology, and great customer relationships. All these factors are very consistent with the core position of the Hyne Group, which has operated in Australia for over 140 years,” he said.

“While it will be business as usual for Rodpak’s brand, staff, suppliers and customers, being a part of the Hyne Group brings the strengths of the international connections with James Jones & Sons Limited, who are a leading pallet manufacturer in Europe with several sites throughout the United Kingdom.”

“The broader security of being a part of a large timber manufacturing business also brings further certainty for the Rodpak business and its customer base,” Mr Bindon said.

The Hyne Group has been a long-term supplier of timber to the pallet industry, and this remains a core focus for the sawmilling operations.

Mr Bindon said the Hyne strategy is not to add new capacity to the pallet market but to work with customers and industry participants who are ready to exit the industry or explore strategic partnerships as part of their succession process.

“Continuing to supply these long-term Hyne pallet customers remains an essential part of the broader Group strategy. This acquisition has no impact on our high-quality, structural framing product range for the construction sector, which continues to be a critical focus for the Hyne Timber business,” Mr Bindon said.

Rodpak’s current owner, Dean Roderick, will be staying on with the business and is well respected in the market internationally within the pallet sector. 

“Dean has been known to the James Jones & Sons pallet business for some years, and he is most highly regarded by them also,” Mr Bindon said.

Dean Roderick said the new ownership model was a welcome move to take the company forward.

“Becoming part of a national and global ownership model is a significant milestone for us as a business, for our team members, customers and suppliers and we have been pleased with the process to get to this point.”

“Rodpak is a great business with strong partnerships, built over many years. With the local strength and global reach of the Hyne Group, I am very confident the company is moving in a great direction, and I look forward to working with the broader Hyne Group team,” Mr Roderick said.

The full acquisition of Rodpak will finalise on May 1, 2024 subject to all Completion Precedents being met.