We have helped develop a sustainable alternative to timber shipping pallets, enabling Australian company Biofiba to enter global markets.

The challenge

The environmental impact of shipping pallets

Shipping pallets are flat timber platforms used for storing, handling and transporting goods. More than six billion timber export pallets are sold globally each year.

Due to contamination fears, these pallets are usually discarded after one use. They are also chemically treated which makes them difficult to recycle.

Our response

Testing recyclable timber substitutes

In a bid to develop a commercially viable and sustainable alternative to timber shipping pallets, we partnered with BioFiba through our Australian Growth Partnerships program.

The result was the creation of a sustainable bio-composite and a process to produce simulated extruded timber, made from composite material.

[Music plays, CSIRO logo appears on bottom right hand corner of screen, and text appears on screen: Partnering for Growth: Shipping local innovation overseas.]

[Image changes to show Bifiba shipping pallets]

[Image changes to show a building with a sign:  Bifiba logo]

Voice over: Biofiba is a super loaded timber which has been specifically designed, manufactured and developed as a replacement for timber and plastics within the pallet, packaging, building and construction industry.

[Image changes to show Laurence Dummett and text appears on screen:  Laurence Dummett, Mangaging Director, Biofiba Ltd]

Laurence Dummett: To produce a product like Biofiba we faced two main challenges. One was the combination of a fiber, a natural fiber with a fully compostable bio-polymer resin. Then the machinery side of that is then to produce a product utilising those raw materials.

[Laurence holding hemp fiber and bio-polymer resins]

Laurence Dummett: What I have here is a bass fiber better know as hemp fiber, which is a commercially grown chop. This is a bio-polymer resin, it's totally biodegradable. 

[Panning shot of shipping pallets and Bifiba's machinery]

Laurence Dummett: With the expertise of the scientific research department of CSIRO and ourselves and our machinery manufacturing itself with engineering. We were able to combine all that expertise into one entity to produce this product. 

[Image changes back to Laurence Dummett]

Laurence Dummett: I knew CSIRO had the expertise; within the Biopoymer engineering side of their operation to achieve what we needed to achieve. That was my main focus for going to the CSIRO, and they do have the expertise in that area to produce products that become commercially viable.

Laurence Dummett: We with the scientific staff, the engineering staff at CSIRO is quite an exhilarating experience; they do know what they are doing. They are out there in the commercial world and they do know how to get products. It's a combination of entrepreneurial expertise, scientific expertise and engineering expertise.

For those who are looking to approach CSIOR to carry out a development or carry out any sort of business investigation to what you want to do it is not a daunting exercise. 

[Cuts to Laurence Dummett talking with CSIRO scientist]

From a person who has dealt with CSIRO for nearly 15 years they are very good people to deal with. 

[Image changes back to Laurence Dummett]

Laurence Dummett: It is hard in the real world market place to commercialise products, so you need the back up of organisations like the CSIRO who will partner with you to give you the credibility to go to the world market.

Laurence Dummett: Bifiba isn't restricted to the Australian market, Biofiba product is a global market. Therefor we promote not only Bifiba in the global market we promote Australia and the virtues of what the CSIRO has done and can do for future products.

[CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]

Biofiba Biodegradable Shipping Pallets

The results

A new clean alternative to timber

Pallets, crates, boxes, cartons, bracing, and blocking are all products that can be created from this timber substitute.

Biofiba has entered the global marketplace, with distributors in Australia, USA, UK and Europe, Canada, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, India and South Africa. The company has also recently entered into a joint venture with Chinese company Huaxin Green Spring Environmental to have Biofiba pallets manufactured and distributed from China.

The newly constructed manufacturing facility will house state-of-the-art equipment producing biocomposite simulated timber.

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