Senate Hearing, July 2011
Biobased Products Manufacturers Tout Economic Benefits at Senate Committee Hearing
Washington, D.C (August 2, 2011)- Biobased Products Coalition (BPC) members made a strong case for the power of biobased products for the U.S. economy at the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry hearing on “Growing Jobs in Rural America,” held July 14, in Washington, D.C.
“Our agricultural economy is leading the nation’s economic recovery,” said Chairwoman Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich). “We heard today that we can spur job growth, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and add value to farmer’s agricultural products by supporting innovation such as the emerging biomass manufacturing sector.”
Marc Verbruggen, president and CEO of NatureWorks LLC sees the U.S. biobased industry as the vehicle to create over 237,000 direct U.S. jobs. The industry would also “capture a projected $190 billion of the $1 trillion global renewable chemical market, as well as all the value chain jobs that go with this sector.”
“A compelling feature of biobased products is the downstream job multiplier effect,” said Oliver Peoples, founder and Chief Scientific Officer for Metabolix in Massachusetts, which has a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland. “Achieving the industry’s full potential could create tens of thousands of high-paying green jobs in the U.S. within the next five years, the majority in rural areas.”
Biobased carpet backing from Universal Textile Technologies (UTT) is already boosting the U.S. carpet and synthetic turf job forces. “The carpet industry in northwest Georgia has been hit hard with recent economic downturn, with unemployment rates hovering around the 12 percent mark for most of 2011,” said John McIntosh, vice president of sales and marketing for Signature Crypton Carpet, and Textile Management Associates representative. “Through these tough times, investment in new soy-based technologies have been able to grow Textile Management Associates’ workforce by almost ten percent.”
“Every square yard of carpet that is sold creates value all the way to the farmer that grows the soybeans, to the installer, to the people who maintain it, the commercial flooring contractor that buys and resells it to the design firms that purchase it. So, all the way up and down the chain it creates value,” said McIntosh.
Reduce dependence on foreign petrochemicals
One of main purposes of biobased products is to replace their petrochemical counterparts and changes in the market have made these biobased products more competitive.
“At its peak in the 1950s, the plastic and chemicals industry was responsible for over 5 million U.S. jobs and a $20 billion positive trade balance for the U.S.,” said Peoples. “Over the last two decades, competitive advantage for chemicals and plastics manufacturing has shifted towards the Middle East and Asia as has the industry.”
“European markets are very strong and very interested in biobased materials,” said Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC) Assistant Director Dennis Hall. “Our challenge is really the competition of foreign countries that understand this potential and needing to get ahead of them. We have the scientists, resources, climate, water and capability. We just have to move out and make sure it’s a priority for our country.”
“Agriculture will continue to lead the country in creating new opportunities in small towns in rural American with all of our efforts,” concluded Senator Stabenow.
Visit the Biobased Products Coalition YouTube page for video interviews of hearing witnesses: http://www.youtube.com/user/BiobasedCoalition/videos