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Sugar Cane

15 July, 2020

Bioproducts discussion revisited in the State's sugarcane industry

A North Queensland politician has renewed calls for the State’s sugarcane industry to diversify by manufacturing bioplastics, as its growers and mills grapple with low sugar prices. Member for Mackay, Labor’s Julieanne Gilbert, said cane farming regions were well placed to pioneer the industry.


Queensland sugarcane growers believe further government policy is required for a tenable industrial bioproducts sector.

"We have got an abundance of resources right here in Mackay" Ms Gilbert said.

"We have got feedstock we can use from our sugarcane crops, plenty of water, power, land and highly skilled people."

Bioplastics are made from plant-based materials and are appealing as eco-friendly wrapping due to their ability to break down.

Queensland's Department of State Development, Innovation and Tourism said it was committed to creating a $1 billion sustainable and export orientated industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector.

"The Mackay region is ideally situated for the production of bioplastics with local research expertise at CQU, the QUT Mackay Renewable Biocommodity Pilot Plant, and large markets for agricultural and industrial bioplastics" it said in a statement.

"By 2035, an industrial bioproducts sector could support 6 640 full-time jobs in Queensland."

However Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg said Australia did not have the right commercial or political environment to make the venture viable.

"Viability is the main word in this because at the end of the day we need government policy behind these things for it to take off" he said.

"If the government could come in with some policy to support these things, then I have no doubt growers would want to be a part of it... we’re all ears."

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