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Quick Six - August

French Tyre maker Michelin to introduce wood into tyres

From 2020 Michelin intend to start replacing the oil content in tyres with elastomers from wood chip. Currently 80% of a tyre is made up of oil and the aim is to reduce this to 20% by 2048. Trials are underway with plantations in Brazil. The company is setting up a plantation model that allows for the growing of bananas and cocoa alongside rubber. Trees also grow almost everywhere making it easier for Michelin to locally source renewable materials.

New Zealand’s third annual Engineered Wood Conference

On 28th August the third annual conference on engineered wood for commercial and multi-residential building is set to attract hundreds of early adopters as NZ moves fast to catch up our Australian neighbours in sustainable commercial building.

A distinct advantage is speed. Wood buildings go up faster than concrete/steel. The key is using new design and manufacturing software known as “building information modelling” (BIM). “Following trends in Australia and USA the use of engineered wood is growing as BIM is more widely used by engineers and architects right through to the tradespeople,” says conference director John Stulen. “The shorter project times have also caught the eye of all of leading trades contractors, especially when their people see BIM in action on a tall wood building project,” says Stulen. “This year we are delighted to have all 100% of our conference case studies outlining New Zealand wood projects,” he adds. Register now at: https://connexevents.com/cpetc2018/

New Zealand Government doubles funding for trees

As part of the One Billion Trees Project, Cabinet has approved the creation of a new grants programme and partnership fund to the value of $240M. This fund will be targeted to provide training and employment opportunities to facilitate more trees being planted. This fund is reallocated from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). Shane Jones said “The new grants scheme will provide simple and accessible direct funding to landowners for the cost of planting and establishing trees and regenerating indigenous forest. Private landowners, government agencies, NGOs and iwi will all be able to apply. These grants will be available from later this year and we’re aiming to encourage the planting of natives, trees for erosion control, and environmentally-focused planting – all ensuring we have the right tree in the right place for the right purpose. On top of this, a new partnership fund will create an even closer working relationship between Te Uru Rakau and regional councils, NGOs, training organisations, Maori landowners and community groups.  This approach will allow us to leverage co-funding opportunities and existing know- how and experience.  We’ll be looking at promoting innovation, securing sufficient labour to get trees in the ground and providing support and advice to landowners on how they can improve land-use."

Two thirds of trees planted will be natives

In order for the Greens to support this fund it was agreed that two thirds of the tree planted will be natives. Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has previously said only native trees should be planted on conservation land and it is understood the Greens had pushed for a large number of native trees planted as part of the "billion trees" project to be natives.  New Zealand First, however, is known to prefer exotic trees, particularly Pinus radiata, which grows faster and is more useful to the forestry industry. Jones has previously talked about at least half the trees being exotics, which are more suited for reprocessing and 'consume' carbon emissions at a faster rate.  In light of this, the Greens appear to have won a major concession. Jones said exotic trees take carbon out of the atmosphere faster than natives, but officials had advised him to plant a large proportion of natives. “It’s a feature of the Government’s commitment: we do want to restore and expand native cover,” Jones said.

Scion assesses impact of climate change on plantation forests in New Zealand

Increased photosynthesis due to increasing CO2 levels will lead to productivity gains averaging 19% by 2040. This growth will lead to taller and slimmer trees which increases susceptibility to wind risk. The average very high/extreme fire risk season will increase by 71% by 2040. The impact of the two current main needle cast diseases will vary by region, and pest damage which is currently low may increase with projected increases in populations and tree susceptibility. Potentially invasive weeds are likely to expand their range and compete more strongly with pine plantation under climate change.  

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Sweeteners in chewing gum to be made from wood

In couple of years’ time, when you pop a piece of Dentyne or Trident chewing gum in your mouth, you may well be tasting a sweetener made from wood and agricultural by-products using a technology developed by North Vancouver’s S2G Biochemicals Inc.

According to Mark Kirby, CEO of S2G, which is now a fully owned subsidiary of the Fortress S2G Biochem had inked a major partnership deal with Mondelez International, the multinational food, beverage and confectionery company that owns brands such as Nabisco, Cadbury, Toblerone and Oreo. Mondelez also owns the chewing gum brands Dentyne, Trident, Chiclets and Stride.  Xylitol is one of a handful of sugar alcohols, including sorbitol, used as an alternative to sugar in chewing gum and mints.

Typically extracted from hardwoods or corncobs, xylitol has one-third the calories of regular sugar and prevents tooth decay – two reasons why companies like Mondelez prefer to use it rather than other sweeteners, like sorbitol. The problem is that it’s expensive to make, but S2G has developed a process for making xylitol more cost-effectively.