Pallets may not be an exciting topic to most of us, but they are a critical product in the freight industry – and industrial hemp could play an important role in their production.
According to a Deakin University report quoting Freedonia Group research, it’s estimated that there are 140 million pallets in the Australian market. Globally, the figure would be billions.
Pallets are primarily made of wood or plastic, but with a gap in hardwood supply in Australia expected within the next decade, wood pallets may become more expensive.
While plastic pallets are attractive due to their lack of splinters and compatibility with food and pharmaceutical products; they are fossil-fuel based, flammability is a problem and cost is an issue – as is the inability to repair them.
An Australian company is aiming to address the challenge facing the local pallet sector by using a new material for the application, industrial hemp.
Based in New South Wales, Biofiba Ltd. is getting ready to commercially manufacture its Biopallet product. Biopallets are made from Biofiba, which the company says has many of the inherent properties of plastic. However, it is extruded in plank form rather than being injection moulded.
Predominantly made from industrial hemp fibre, the company says that unlike plastic, Biofiba will biodegrade to compost.
Biofiba rattles off a long list of other advantages of its product, including:
- Water and fire resistant
- No fumigation or heat treatment required
- Food industry compliant
- Splinter and debris free
- The pallets can be made to any size and to suit any load.
A recent report on FullyLoaded states the company is hoping to commence manufacturing early next year.
“We’re looking forward to adding considerable value to investment, and the positive impacts our product will make to the environment in stopping deforestation and reducing plastic waste,” said Biofiba chairman Laurence Dummett.
According to the company, Biofiba planks are already being used to make Biopallets by some existing pallet manufacturers.
Logistics applications is just one of the many uses for industrial hemp.