Hemp, flax, jute, kenaf, wheat and wood fibres are just a few of the high-profile biofibres coming onstream as global bioproduct markets expand. Ontario's strength in fibre lies primarily in its forestry industry, but biofibres of many other types are being developed in Ontario for auto paneling and other applications. As new doors open, the Ontario BioAuto Council offers commercialization support for companies forging through.
Success is prevalent in Ontario's alternative biofibre sectors. For example, Wellington Polymers Inc. has experienced double-digit annual growth with its Enviroshake, a simulated cedar shingle comprising agricultural fibres and recycled materials. The Enviroshake lasts appreciably longer than its cedar-shake counterpart, is easy to install and resists warping, rotting and extreme weather. Another Ontario company called Stemergy is a leading North American distributor of hemp-fibre products used in everything from lightweight concrete to reinforcing fibre in construction composites.
The fibreglass sector also offers room for biofibre substitution. Glass fibre production currently requires many times the energy needed to manufacture alternative biofibres. Lower cost and lighter weight, combined with recyclability and renewable source materials, make biofibres a competitive choice. Europe and Asia are already pushing forward with biofibre applications such as biofibre injection moulding, which allows for production of wood polymer composites from wood and straw. Press moulding has also been used for parts in car interiors in Germany, where the average car rolling off the assembly line contains 3.6 kg of biofibre, with some models containing up to 30 kg. The biofibre race is well underway, and the Ontario BioAuto Council aims to bring Ontario's biofibre advantage to the forefront of global bioproduct markets.