Greasy by-product could help industry

IT’S yellow and greasy and far from the most appealing product in the world — but it could be a saviour for the North East’s manufacturing sector.

The answer is animal tallow, a by-product produced in huge volumes at sites like Wodonga Abattoir and Rendering and used — among other applications — to make the glycerin that goes into products like soap and shampoo.

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said glycerin could be of value in the North East, if the market conditions were right.

“If a glycerin plant was to be established here, I’m confident it would create 300 jobs,” he said.

“We’re currently sending it (tallow) offshore and bringing it back as a commodity ... we shouldn’t be selling our jobs off overseas.”

He told The Border Mail if the private sector was interested, he would be willing to advocate on its behalf.

Mr Tilley’s idea has the support of Wodonga Abattoir and Rendering director Matthew McPhee, who said a glycerin plant would be a valuable addition to the region.

“Absolutely, it would be fantastic if someone kicked it off,” he said.

The company was one of the main suppliers to the last operating glycerin plant in the state, in Port Melbourne, before it closed several years ago.

Since then, Mr McPhee said they sent all their tallow to the Barnawartha bio-diesel plant — another application for the product — but they would have “more than enough” to supply two plants.

“We’re lucky to have the bio-diesel plant here, it’s easy for us to send it there, but other sites would be having to export it,” he said.

Mr Tilley acknowledged it would be an expensive start-up, and that market conditions including free trade agreements weren’t necessarily favourable to such a project.

“But we have got to manufacture,” he said.

“We shouldn’t be a service-dependent economy ... not everyone wants to work in a retail business or an office.

“They’re smart people we’ve got here wanting to manufacture.

“We’ve got to create the market environment for the private sector to want to invest.”

Mr Tilley said if the interest was there it was “absolutely appropriate for the government to sit down with the private sector and see what we can do to assist and facilitate a successful business that’s going to grow the economy and create more jobs”.