Bio-Based Economy: The New Industrial Revolution

In recent years, the U.S. and other countries have taken significant steps to move away from fossil-fuel based economic systems to sustainable economies based on biomass.
By: Growth Equities
Aug. 17, 2012 - PRLog -- Los Angeles, CA, US, August 17, 2012 -- A significant portion of agricultural resources used to make the feedstock or intermediate ingredients for bio-products includes corn, soybeans, flax, jute and kenaf. These crops provide serve as feedstock for the manufacturing of intermediate products, such as polymers, plastics, chemicals, films, foams and cellulose fibers.
Manufacturers use intermediate products to make complex goods for the industrial and consumer markets. Bio-products span a diverse range of items, from paints, plastics and building insulation to shampoo, lip care and laundry detergents.

Certification of Bio-Based Products
Continuous gains in scientific and technological research make the bio-based products one of the fastest growing segments in the economy. The potential for the development of bio-based products offers tremendous growth opportunities across nearly every industrial sector.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has divided bio-products into nine categories. Each product or package under a given category has to meet a minimum bio-based content standard to receive the USDA’s Certified Bio-based Product. The standard represents a minimum percentage of biomass content, such as 11% for lip balm or 72% for disposable dinner plates.

If the category does not have a minimum bio-based content requirement, the product or package must contain a minimum of 25% bio-based content when applying for labeling.

As of March 2012, the USDA has approved more than 670 products from over 200 companies and has about 1,100 applications awaiting bio-based product certification.

Federal Support for Bio-Product Industries
In August 2011, the White House Rural Council began introducing a wide range of initiatives intended to expand the market for bio-based products and support businesses. To help rejuvenate rural communities in the U.S. President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum, which promotes the creation of jobs through the purchase of bio-products through federal procurements.

The Federal government spends about $400 billion on goods and services annually. So far, Uncle Sam has committed $350 million in Small Business Administration financing for bio-based business start-ups in rural areas.

Companies Tie Futures to Bio-Products
Many large corporations have invested in certain bio-based segments to enhance their product lines and reduce carbon footprints. For example, Coke (KO) and Pepsi (PEP) have in their pipeline bio-based products made of 100 percent sugarcane and other crop materials.

Goodyear (GT) and DuPont (DD) have collaborated on the development of a bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene called BioIsoprene™ -- a substitute used to produce synthetic rubber for tires, adhesives, golf balls, and other products.

Bio-based plastic Cereplast, Inc. (CERP) specializes in bio-plastic technology. The company uses from starch-based sustainable plastics, derived from corn, wheat, potatoes and tapioca, to design and manufacturer bio-based products. Northern Technologies International Corporation (NTIC) also develops bio-based substitutes for traditional plastics.

Privately held Cargill introduced bio-based polyols, a soybean derivative, into the foam market in 2005. Cargill recently opened a $22 million “world-scale” bio-based polyol production manufacturing facility in Chicago, Illinois.

Málama Composites out of San Diego, California also manufactures a line of bio-based polyols foams called Studio BioFoam™ and AinaCore®. The company advertizes its Studio BioFoam™ as the first such product designed for “artists, sculptors and the industrial design community.”

Manufacturers can utilize conventional fabrication procedures when working with Málama Composites foam products. The non-toxic bio-based foams have a wide variety of applications across diverse industries, including building materials, transportation, industrial and consumer products. Some bio-based products manufactured from foam include surfboards, toys, furniture, building insulation and automobile components.

GIS Research predicts strong growth in global demand for foam insulation used to build more energy-efficient buildings, especially the EU and Asia-Pacific region.Málama Composites’ bio-based foam products have helped positioned this three-year old company to expand and thrive along with a bio-based economy still in the embryonic stage of development.

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