Dr Jeffrey Parr whose business Plantstones is a case study in the report, Doing Green Business.
Dr Jeffrey Parr whose business Plantstones is a case study in the report, Doing Green Business. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Not easy being green

RUNNING out of the charcoal they needed to carbon date the fossilised remains of vegetation in Papua New Guinea in 2003 turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Southern Cross University scientists Jeff Parr and Leigh Sullivan.

They improvised and found an alternative source of carbon, but in the process they also made a groundbreaking discovery.

They discovered "plantstones" which trap carbon in plants for thousands of years, preventing release into the atmosphere regardless of whether the plant dies, is harvested, eaten or burnt.

But developing their discovery into a business has presented some challenges for Dr Parr and Professor Sullivan.

They are scientists and struggle with business management and have had trouble obtaining finance for further research.

"Leigh and I are scientists, we are not really business people, so it would be nice if there was some sort of business hub ... where we could be assisted," Dr Parr said.

Now a new report released yesterday by Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers has considered the barriers faced by the likes of Dr Parr and his partner.

The report provides a glimpse into the successes and challenges of green businesses based on discussions with over 300 North Coast businesses.

"(The report) provided a great opportunity to learn about the contribution green businesses are making to our economy and for us to better understand what support they need going forward," Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers chief Katrina Luckie said.

The report makes a number of recommendations to assist green business operators develop their business. These include the availability of better tailored training and support in finance, business management and marketing as well as more opportunities to network and collaborate with others in the sector.

The report is on the Regional Development Northern Rivers website at rdanorthernrivers.org.au.



  • Lack of financing or too much financial risk.
  • Identifying and accessing new markets.

Lack of business development services.

Federal, State and Local government regulations and policies.

Difficulty accessing goods and services locally.

Lack of suitable premises.

Transport and freight issues.

Communications/ telecommunications issues.

Energy costs or reliability.

SOURCE: Regional Development Australia - Doing Green Business Report 2012