SUSTAINABLE thermal packing company Woolpack Australia is looking to establish a state-of-the-art wool processing, research and development facility in the next 12 months after receiving a $4.8 million Federal Government grant.
The company intends to establish the facility to turn sheep wool waste into a sustainable packaging alternative to polystyrene with the Modern Manufacturing Initiative grant.
The company’s Woolpack product with its recyclable or compostable liner can be used to store and freight food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and sea food.
Woolpack Australia was one of six Australian companies to share in the funding round from the $1.3 billion initiative.
Company chief executive officer Joanne Howarth said the business case was being finalised prior to a Series A fund-raising early next year that could raise up to $10 million for expansion.
“We are looking to get some big strategic investors on board to expand into South East Asia.”
Ms Howarth said when the company was set up about five years ago with a vision to manufacture Australian wool in Australia, replacing processed product currently sourced from China. Woolpack Australia trades as Planet Protector Packaging.
“We want to be supportive of Australian sheep farmers,” Ms Howarth said.
She said it has taken a long time to get government awareness of the business, which included a Ewe Beauty campaign supported by 26,000 signatures to support the grant application.
The company also ran a crowd-funding campaign that raised $1.25 million from 855 smaller investors, including wool growers, to fund the business up to the Series A proposal.
“There has been overwhelming enquiry … our story really resonates with the wider public and so many people are reaching out to us wanting to get involved and invest.”
This has included Australian coarse wool growers who have burnt their wool or sent it landfills.
“Very sad stories.”
Ms Howarth said ultimately the company aimed to contract wool purchasing direct from growers.
“I’m setting up my supply chain so that I will be dealing directly with the source.”
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said this funding for the Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority will help spur opportunities for our manufacturers to grow here at home and into other export markets.
“The government is taking action to reduce Australia’s emissions and secure our economic future, and our investments will help our manufacturers be part of the solution.
“This funding will help some of our most innovative businesses unlock private investment, drive more opportunities in manufacturing as well as create new local jobs,’ Mr Taylor said.
“While helping our businesses embrace new technology and scale up their production, this funding will also help to turn more of our waste into valuable products.”