Boost for bioproducts benefits Ohio

The Obama Administration’s announcement that it plans to increase federal government purchasing of bio-based products could mean a significant financial boost for Ohio, an Ohio State University Extension expert said.

According to a statement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the announcement calls for the federal government to increase the purchasing of bio-based products over the next two years, which they project will create jobs and drive innovation where bio-based products are grown and manufactured.

Ohio ranks No. 1 nationally in terms of polymer employment, has a major bio-based product industry and is a strong agricultural producer. The announcement will also result in a 50% increase in the number of new products that are designated as bio-based, Vilsack said.

That means the potential for more jobs and a financial boost for Ohio growers, producers and manufacturers, said Dennis Hall assistant director of the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University. This is significant because the polymer and specialty chemical industry in Ohio has an estimated economic impact of $89 billion, he said.

Bio-based products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from farm-grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. Vilsack said the government’s plan is a way to bring jobs to rural areas, noting that more than 20,000 companies now create bio-based cleaning agents, paints, lubricants and personal care items from renewable sources.

“We’re No. 1 in paints and coatings, rubber, adhesives, and cleaners and detergents producers and manufacturers,” Hall said. “As those companies innovate, they’re looking for bio-based materials. Job creation is where Ohio will see its greatest benefit.”

The government’s BioPreferred labeling program began in 2009 and identifies products make from renewable sources such as corn, with a goal of lowering petroleum consumption. To qualify for the designation, an item must contain enough renewable material to meet or exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture-specified standards.

The Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University works to accelerate the commercialization of bio-based products, which enhances Ohio’s economic growth.

“The federal government just signed up to be a larger consumer of those products than in the past,” Hall said. “Our job now is to help companies be in a position to sell these bio-based products.”

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