Camphor laurel’s other life

CHOP CHOP: Vicki Evans from Eco Chopping Boards
CHOP CHOP: Vicki Evans from Eco Chopping Boards Veda Dante

THE declaration of camphor laurel as a noxious weed more than 20 years ago triggered a business idea that has reached international acclaim for one local family.

Established in 1991, Eco Chopping Boards has turned the invasive species into a range of products that are used in homes and restaurants around Australia and at least 15 other countries around the world.

"There was only so much local sugar mills could take from the clearing program during the 1990s, so we started to make furniture and chopping boards from the salvaged timber," said manager Rebecca Klein. "Now we distribute all over Australia and export to numerous countries in Asia and Europe."

While considered the most prolific weed species in Australia, when camphor laurel is kiln-dried, it becomes naturally anti-bacterial and minimises the risk of cross-contamination when preparing food.

"Scientific tests show that camphor is the most effective food preparation surface with regard to reducing microbial growth," Rebecca said.

To further reduce waste from discarded camphors, the company sources the timber from local arborists and farmers to prevent trees being burnt.

"We mill our own timber and then kiln-dry it at the Byron Arts and Industry Estate factory, which results in a very stable end product," Rebecca said. "We also give back to the community by giving away our off-cuts while people can bag up their own sawdust, which can be used as mulch or for compost toilets." - Veda Dante

Topics:  byron bay camphor laurel cooking

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