The South African government has invested in a R37.5 million biorefinery facility in Durban, and this facility is anticipated to extract a maximum value from biomass waste. This facility in Durban is a first of its kind in South Africa, and it will support innovation in a range of industries, including forestry, agro processing and other biomass-based industries.

The launch, which took place in Durban was attended by the minister for Science and technology, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, she launched the Biorefinery Industry Development Facility at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research  (CSIR) Campus in Durban.

South Africa’s biorefinery in the pulp and paper industry is practiced on a very limited scale. Wood, pulp and paper waste ends up in landfill sites or is burnt, stockpiled or even pumped out to sea. This means good news for the environment, especially given the fact that South Africa is running out of landfill space. High-Value speciality chemicals can be extracted from sawmill and dust shavings, while mill sludge can be converted into nanocrystalline cellulose, biopolymers and a biogas.

Speaking at the launch Minister Kubayi said, “A key recommendation of the report was for government to put in place effective measures and mechanisms to attract the private sector to invest in R&D and innovation,”  she went on to add, “A key long term outcomes measure would be increased sector contribution to the GDP through stronger RDI-based industrial development,” she said, adding that the Industry Innovation Partnership (IIP) should support initiatives, such as satellite development and manufacturing and titanium powder development, among others.

Dr Thulani Dlamini, CEO for CSIR added that, “Our mandate requires us to use science  and technology to contribute to scientific and industrial development, which will improve the competitiveness of the South African industry  and also create new industries. The CSIR is using innovation to contribute to economic growth and thus assisting in the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment,” she said.

Ms Jane Molony, executive director of the Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Association of South Africa, she mentioned that she is very confident in the potential of the facility and how it will make a meaningful contribution to the sector and the South African economy.

Anything to aid in the growth of the South African economy should be welcomed especially this kind of new facility that will not only assist in economical growth but aid in the sustainable development of South Africa, which would mean great results for the environment too.