Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand. This week he talks to Dr Gaetano Dedual and Jacob Kohn, co-founders of Futurity.
It’s possible that in the future, we might just look back on this period as the Oil Age in the same way we look back at the Stone Age. Pretty everything in the world is derived from fossil fuels at some point, and it’s not just the obvious stuff. Most advanced chemicals used to build, coat, and synthesise things are fossil fuel-derived, and that’s a big problem.
Oil dependency has created perverse political and social outcomes and has had disastrous effects on our environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way – there are some really exciting scientific methods and practices emerging that allow us to produce these materials we’re hooked on as a society but without having take fossil fuels out form the ground. One of these practices involves pine trees – an abundant renewable resource here – which is a super cool idea since oil is pretty much trees plus time.
New Zealand company Futurity is at the forefront of trying to take out the middleman (time) and is in the process of bringing a biorefinery to Tairāwhiti Gisborne. Using new techniques, pine trees will be broken down into its building block chemicals to become the platform chemicals that can be used for plastics, resins and all sorts of applications currently provided by oil-derivatives.
It’s an awesomely ambitious project that I’ve been lucky enough to see up close helping Futurity with its branding. Futurity is aiming to create jobs, increase the value we get for timber grown here, and help keep carbon in the ground. Co-founders, Jacob Kohn and Dr Gaetano Dedual joined us on the podcast to talk about science, their goals and ways the system needs to improve.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.