Timber update August 2022

by | Aug 15, 2022

Henkel invests in recycled wood technology 3RT

German chemical industry giant, Henkel Adhesive Technologies will soon strengthen its capabilities for timber construction solutions by investing in Australian company, 3RT.

3RT’s technology allows a more sustainable and innovative production of hardwood timber products
3RT’s technology allows a more sustainable and innovative production of hardwood products. Image source: henkel.com

Along with its business partners, 3RT has developed a robotic process to convert forest and plantation residue into high-quality and unique hardwood products. With the investment, made through Henkel Tech Ventures, Henkel aims to further expand its Engineered Wood business and to drive the implementation of sustainable future-oriented technologies.

Head of Corporate Venturing at Henkel Adhesive Technologies, Paolo Bavaj, said as part of its venturing activities Henkel was looking for, “novel and scalable technologies complementing our existing portfolio in adhesives, sealants and functional coatings.”

“We believe that the combination of 3RT´s capabilities with Henkel´s unique expertise offers the potential to further expand the market for engineered wood applications,” Mr Bavaj said.

Through its Engineered Wood business, Henkel currently offers high-impact structural adhesives under its Loctite brand that enable the manufacturing of mass timber products for wooden beams, trusses, walls and floors. 

Mass timber is a high-performance building material that replaces concrete and steel in many construction applications as it is more sustainable, renewable and shows a lower CO2 footprint. According to the company, high-tech adhesives from Henkel are crucial for the production of safe and sustainable engineered wood and thus contribute to a significant reduction in buildings’ carbon footprints. 

Henkel’s Global Head of the Engineered Wood business, Christian Fild, said that in order to expand and promote the use of wood as a material in construction and in buildings, Henkel continuously looks for partners with innovative technologies. 

“3RT’s technology allows a more sustainable and innovative production of hardwood products that have the potential for a wide range of structural and decorative applications,” Mr Fild said.

Founded in 2014, 3RT has developed a novel automated production process for converting low-value wood fibre into hardwood products. Based on a patented process, 3RT applies a water-based, formaldehyde-free ‘Nano-bonding agent’ that bio-mimics the structure of a natural tree. The technology platform uses advanced robotics and smart automation to create products of high-quality appearance and that are also 100 per cent natural and recyclable.

3RT Managing Director Peter Torreele said 3RT is focused on continuous improvement both in the fields of new material properties and methods of production to help address the significant environmental and supply challenges relating to old-growth forests. 

“In addition to our partnerships with Flinders University and Bosch, this partnership with Henkel will assist in turbocharging our technological advancements and global expansion,” Mr Torreele said.

Scion announces new Forests to Timber Products GM

Scion recently announced that its new General Manager of Forests to Timber Products is Dr Henri Baillères, who brings with him an enormous amount of research and industry experience in forestry and wood product innovation. 

Scion General Manager of Forests to Timber Products, Dr Henri Baillères.

With his most recent role being Hyne Timber’s Product Development Manager, Dr Baillères also led the Forest Products Innovation Team of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in recent years. Dr Baillères has also worked on forestry and wood product projects throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Scion Chief Executive, Dr Julian Elder, says he is pleased to see Dr Baillères join the team.

“He is already well known to us having visited Scion a number of times, while his international industry leadership in advanced timber engineering will further strengthen our world-leading Forest to Timber Products impact area.”

Dr Baillères said it was an honour and a privilege to join the Scion team which has a strong international reputation and leadership position in many areas of research.

“Scion’s ambitious strategy for New Zealand will be transformational and pave the way for the development of a thriving new bio-economy. I am ready to embrace my new position with enthusiasm and passion, where I expect to add value through my technical and scientific expertise, my understanding of the forest-wood value chain and my enjoyment of multidisciplinary teamwork,” Dr Baillères said.

Dr Baillères’ career began with CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) studying the structural properties of wood from hybrid eucalyptus plantations in the Republic of the Congo. His research spans the broad spectrum of the forest-based sector, reflecting his technical skills, engineering background and research experience in wood science and technology.

Sustainable forestry is part of the solution to Australia’s environmental crisis

A recent report by the State of the Environment has painted a sobering picture of the challenges facing the Australian landscape, while also highlighting the need for Australia’s sustainable forest industries to play a greater role in the solution.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said that the report highlights an urgent need to tackle the real threats to the environment and threatened species, such as invasive flora and fauna, disease, climate change, and catastrophic bushfires.

“It also highlights the opportunity for Australia’s sustainable forest industries to help address these threats. The Federal Government’s goal to plant one billion new timber plantation trees by 2030 will have a significant climate mitigation benefit from the carbon stored in the growing trees and in the renewable timber and paper products made from them.”

“As Australia moves to eliminate single-use plastics, the paper, cardboard, and wood fibre-derived plastic replacement products made right here in Australia will become ever-important in our war on waste,” Mr Hampton said.

Mr Hampton cautioned decision makers not to conflate Australia’s modest, sustainable native forest industries with land clearing and habitat loss, as forestry in Australia is regulated to the highest environmental standards in the world.

“Our native forest industries use the equivalent of just six trees in every 10,000 out of Australia’s 132 million hectares of native forest, and regenerate after harvest to ensure no net loss in forest area. They ensure the continued supply of essential timber products for our homes, pallets for our supermarkets, and firewood to heat our homes. Additionally, studies have shown that timber harvesting has not been a ‘major threat factor’ in the extinction of any Australian mammal since European settlement.”

Mr Hampton also urged decision makers to heed the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which says sustainably managing our native forests for timber delivers the best climate change mitigation results which states:

“A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.” – IPCC 4th Assessment.

“AFPA looks forward to working with the Federal Government on addressing the findings of the report and ensuring our environment is preserved for future generations,” Mr Hampton concluded.