It has been quite an eventful year for Australia with the bushfires and the subsequent pandemic-triggered lockdown taking its toll on the economy as well as communities.

As construction ramps up and new house starts resume, opportunities are appearing for specifiers and builders to be at the forefront of recovery. Locally made products using materials grown locally are gaining interest, not only for being easily available but also for the people they employ and the communities they support.

Manufactured from sustainably grown Australian and New Zealand Plantation Radiata Pine, Ecoply is Australia’s leading brand of structural plywood. With over 30 years of manufacturing the trusted plywood brand, Carter Holt Harvey Plywood specialises in the production and supply of environmentally sustainable plywood products from their Myrtleford mill in Victoria. The state-of-the-art plywood mill employs 169 locals and has been a significant part of the community since the 1970s.

An upgrade at the Myrtleford mill in 2010 led to the installation of a cutting-edge technology, high-speed lathe that could produce thin ribbons of veneer at a speed of one log ‘peeled’ every seven seconds. The upgrade also led to greater efficiency, enabling increased supply to the market. Environmental improvements made to the mill focussed on less emissions, lower water use, better air quality, noise reduction and sustainable sourcing of raw material.

This is a local manufacturing story the Australian government is keen to replicate in other industries across the country – a story that combines sustainability, technology and local community. The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund is assisting small to medium businesses achieve these goals. The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said, “I am determined to further strengthen Australian manufacturing and the current pandemic gives us the opportunity as a nation to reassess and commit to the values of Australian-made goods.”

The HomeBuilder grant also gives a boost to the residential construction market by encouraging the commencement of new home builds and renovations this year.

Ecoply is a material that inspires architects and designers, and simplifies work for builders and carpenters. Providing durability, strength and design flexibility, Ecoply plywood is commonly used for flooring, bracing, interior linings, membrane substrates, hoardings and DIY projects. Locally made products include Ecoply square edged structural, non-structural, Formrite formply and Plyfloor flooring – treated and untreated – in a wide range of grades, sizes and thicknesses.

Across the ditch, other popular Ecoply products such as Shadowclad and the recently launched Pinoli are manufactured and are also experiencing a resurgence of interest.

Though the January bushfire events in Australia challenged the forestry industry, local expertise enabled the successful salvage and processing of a large volume of fire damaged plantation logs at the Myrtleford Plywood Mill, helping communities move forward with confidence.

As we rebuild the economy for future generations, it really is local products such as Ecoply that will support its growth. At least we know it will be structurally sound.

Image: Wooden Box House by Moloney Architects; Photographer: Christine Francis