QUT will lead research on a $14 million national project which aims to catapult Australia’s growing bioproducts industry while advancing the war on waste.

The project will be managed by Meat & Livestock Australia through $6 million funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

QUT Professor Ian O’Hara, who will lead research on the venture, said a further $8 million would be provided in cash and in-kind support from 18 project partners.

He said the project aims to develop profitable processes for turning livestock industry wastes into bioenergy and valuable bioproducts.

“In this project we expect to develop the technologies and business models for better management of livestock wastes – turning them from a cost to a valuable resource for the industry,” he said.

“We’ll be investigating how beef, dairy and pork wastes which could include processing wastes and manure can make products such as animal feeds, fertilisers, fuels, chemicals, and plastics for specialty applications.

“The technologies being developed will result in increased revenue and reduced costs for producers leading to increased profitability and sustainability.”

He said the funding would foster a national approach to technology development and involve 19 partners including meat processors, utility companies and technology developers.

He said other research partners include the University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, Murdoch University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory which is based in Washington State, USA.

He said the funding announcement showed great foresight on the part of the Australian Government and Meat & Livestock Australia with long term benefits.

“The development of waste to bioproduct technologies is potentially worth over $100 million per year to livestock industries,” Professor O’Hara said.

“A bioproducts industry will create jobs, particularly in regional Australia, and turning waste into valuable products is an excellent move to improve the environment.”

Professor O’Hara, a principal research scientist at QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, was appointed Queensland’s Biofutures Industry Envoy by the Queensland Government.

This story was first published in Leading Agriculture Issue 23.

Featured image: QUT Professor Ian O’Hara