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JBS cuts carbon

Outspoken carbon tax critic John Berry has welcomed $4.4 million in federal government funding to help the multinational company he represents slash greenhouse gas emissions. The government money allocated to the Dinmore abattoir near Brisbane – belonging to global meat giant JBS – is the largest yet handed to an abattoir under the Gillard government’s Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program. The funding follows last December’s massive allocation of more than $6 million in government funds to South East Queensland rendering plant AJ Bush & Sons. Last February the government initially proposed contributing $1 for every $3 invested by industry, a ratio that was reviewed in July to provide matched government funding dollar-for-dollar after fierce behind-the-scenes lobbying by the Australian Meat Processors Council. Mr Berry said last year that the impacts of the carbon tax would bite deep into the margins of processors that were already rapidly thinning under the weight of the high Australian dollar and high operating costs. He said this week that the government had come a long way in meeting the needs of the meat processing sector. “Prior to the decision to provide dollar for dollar funding there was a lack of understanding by the government on the impact of the carbon tax on meat processing,” Mr Berry said. “Dialogue with Greg Combet’s office has led to better understanding. The Australian Meat Processors’ Council has also played a leading role in providing the technical detail on the impact of the tax, but more importantly detailed a way forward with carbon mitigation projects to deliver better environmental outcomes. “The dollar for dollar funding has helped accelerate the number of carbon mitigation projects in Australian abattoirs.” The government’s announcement on Wednesday means JBS can now spend $8.8 million at Australia’s largest abattoir at Dinmore on upgrades to its waste water treatment system by installing new pre-treatment equipment and covered anaerobic lagoon technology. The existing boiler plant will also be modified to co-combust biogas generated from the site with natural gas. Industry and Innovation Minister Greg Combet said the multi-million dollar project was expected to reduce Dinmore’s carbon emissions by 81 per cent, which could save JBS Australia $1.1 million a year in energy costs while cutting their carbon price liability by $790,000 a year. JBS is now the 16th meat processing plant to receive money under the program for carbon mitigation projects. According to Mr Combet, the program has helped ease some of the tension that was evident last year. “Before the introduction of the carbon price, there was a lot of apprehension about its effects on meat processors in rural Australia,” he said. “The government has worked very closely with the industry and we have ensured that the industry has the support it needs to cut emissions and dramatically improve its competitiveness. “At some of these meat processing sites, the amount of pollution that’s produced per kilo of beef is expected to be cut by 85 per cent and it will dramatically cut energy costs as well. That’s massive. “Thanks to the government and industry working together, the industry and the communities it supports have a very bright future under carbon pricing.” Mr Berry said JBS would continue to pay a carbon tax on all of its emissions while the project at Dinmore on the outskirts of Brisbane took up to a year to complete. Once finished the project is expected to cut Dinmore’s emissions to 35,000 tonnes a year, still 10,000 tonnes over the government’s 25,000 tonne threshold. Mr Berry said the project was expected to make a return on the investment within two years. “Mitigation is one aspect to it, but there is also the benefits that can arise through a lower cost to operate through the reuse of gas and other revenue stream opportunities that will be pursued through the process,” he said. “Dinmore has invested heavily in the last decade in its environmental systems. We are not coming from ground zero and we aren’t responding to pressure from a regulatory perspective to do this work. We already have an excellent environmental system in place. “The government rarely provides dollar for funding for such large capital expenditure projects in the meat processing industry. At the end of the day, this funding is about assuring the ongoing efficiency and sustainability of a site like Dinmore.” The Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program was introduced with the announcement of the controversial carbon tax on July 1, 2011 in a bid to assist energy intensive, trade exposed industries like the meat processing sector to reduce their emissions and carbon tax liability. “The Land” http://www.theland.com.au/news/nationalrural/agribusiness/general-news/jbs-cuts-carbon/2645270.aspx?storypage=0

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