In 1996, it was anticipated that a processing facility would be set up to turn waste wheat straw into particle board2 in Victoria's Wimmera district. The straw would be compressed into panel boarding, similar to chipboard, with a steam-heated hydraulic press. The new enterprise would prevent the straw being burned and provide jobs and income for this economically-depressed region. The cost savings in waste disposal could also run in the tens of millions. Instead farmers would find it profitable to bale and haul the straw.
In the US, new manufacturing facilities have been established in many regions during 1995-96, and more are planned for 19973. Most of these are fairly modestly scaled (processing about 20,000 - 180,000 tons of straw or other material per year), which makes them viable propositions for local and/or co-operative ownership. This means that profits generated will be retained and returned to the local community. On average a US wheat farmer would make about US$11.250 per year from 500 acres of so-called 'waste' straw.
In theory, using waste straw could replace as much as eighty percent of (US) wood-basedconstruction materials.
- D. Lorenz, D. Pettijohn 3
2. For info on Australian-made Compak Strawboard, see Non Timber Building Materials in the Alternative Directory.
3. See A New Industry Emerges in Books, Strawbale, in the Alternative Directory.