US Biobased Products Industry: Economic Impact Analysis

paperinsight bioeconomyA detailed report commissioned by the USDA’s ‘BioPreferred® Program’, has been released. Some highlights are:

  • A conservative estimate of 40,000 bio-based products were sold in the USA in 2013 with an estimated value of $126 billion.
  • The bio-based industries contributed $369 billion to the US economy in 2013.
  • The bio-based products industry directly employed 1.5 million Americans in 2013.
  • The biobased products are currently displacing about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year – equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.

The seven sectors considered to be involved the US bio-based products industry were:

  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Bio-refining
  • Biobased Chemicals
  • Enzymes
  • Bioplastic Bottles & Packaging
  • Forest Products
  • Textiles

A good read for those interested in the bio-based economy and the future potential of bio-renewables.

For the full report, please click here

Why are IKEA and Apple buying up forests …. lots of forests?

paperinsight bioeconomyAn interesting article appeared in Gizmodo by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan giving a perspective on the interests of technology and retail companies in forests, driven by conservation and sustainability pressures and their drive to use renewable resources.

Recently, Ikea (83,000 acres) and Apple (36,000 acres) bought up significant tracts of forest with the intention of managing them as a renewable resource.

In a quote attributed to Apple’s Lisa Jackson, she states:
‘We are in the midst of one of the greatest land transfers in history. In the last 15 years, we’ve already lost 23 million acres of forestland that provided the pulp, paper, and solid wood material for products we all use. That’s roughly an area the size of Maine. As land continues to be sold and change hands at an alarming rate, an estimated 45 million more acres are currently in the crosshairs of development.’

Apple and IKEA are not alone in eyeing up (buying up) future sources of renewables which can be used in the production of energy, food products or products many of which were traditionally derived from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

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For more information on why companies are buying up forests, there is also an article in the Wall Street Journal concerning IKEA –> click here

The interest & investment in nanocrystalline cellulose continues – two new commitments are made in Europe

paperinsight bioeconomyOn the 11th March, 2015, Sappi Limited announced that it will build a pilot-scale plant for the low-cost production of Cellulose NanoFibrils (nanocellulose) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands.

The pilot plant is expected to be operational within nine months and the raw material would be supplied from any of Sappi’s Saiccor, Ngodwana and Cloquet dissolving wood pulp plants. The pilot plant will test the manufacturing of dry re-dispersible Cellulose NanoFibrils (CNF) using the proprietary technology developed by Sappi and Edinburgh Napier University. The CNF produced by Sappi will have unique morphology, specifically modified for either hydrophobic or hydrophilic applications. Products produced using Sappi’s CNF will be used in areas such as lighter and stronger fibre-reinforced composites and plastics, in food and pharmaceutical applications, and in rheology modifiers as well as in barrier and other paper and coating applications.

The location of the pilot plant at Brightlands Chemelot Campus provides Sappi with easy access to multiple partners with whom Sappi will seek to co-develop CNF-containing products across a range of applications.

The pilot plant is the precursor for Sappi to consider the construction of a commercial CNF plant and fits with Sappi’s strategy which includes seeking growth opportunities by producing innovative performance materials from renewable resources.

Please click here for the detailed Sappi announcement.

In another announcement, MoRe Research, Holmen and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, stated that they are investing in, ‘Europe’s first pilot facility for nanocrystalline cellulose‘, in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

The role of each of the participants can be summed up as follows:

  • The pilot facility is located directly adjacent to MoRe who have in-depth knowledge of cellulose, and wide-ranging experience of pilot operations and extensive laboratory and analytical resources.
  • As SP operates in many different sectors it will be able to pave the way for commercially interesting applications beyond the forestry sector’s traditional boundaries.
  • MoRe and SP will have central roles in the construction and operation of the facility, which is expected to be in place during the first half of 2016.
  • The operation in the pilot plant is based on technology developed by an Israeli start-up company Melodea.
  • Holmen is working actively to develop new products based on raw materials from forests and are participating as a catalyst in the creation of the facility and in their role as a co-owner of Melodea

The facility will allow interested companies to develop nanocrystalline cellulose from cellulose-based material on a large scale.  As with the Sappi announcement, the interesting material properties of nanocrystalline cellulose were emphasised, and examples were given for potential applications – as a building material, in biocomposites, printed electronics and dye additives.

The plant is supported financially by Västernorrland County Administrative Board, Holmen, the Kempe Foundations, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the Önnesjö Foundation.

Please click here for the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden announcement.

 

Metsä Fibre signs financing agreements for the Äänekoski bioproduct mill

paperinsight bioeconomyOn the 10th June, 2015, Metsä Fibre Corporation, part of the Metsä Group, signed financing agreements for the Äänekoski bioproduct mill project and refinanced its existing EUR 270 million revolving credit facility.

The EUR 750 million financing for the bioproduct mill consists of a EUR 400 million Finnvera guaranteed loan, EUR 200 million loan from European Investment Bank (EIB), EUR 80 million loan from commercial banks and EUR 70 million loan guaranteed by Swedish export credit agency EKN. Other lenders, include Danske Bank, DNB Bank, Pohjola Bank, SEB, Swedish Export Credit and Swedbank.

The financing has been coordinated by Nordea.

So, what does this bio-product mill do? In summary, it:

  • Refines wood into bio-materials, bio-energy, bio- chemicals and fertilizers sustainably and with great resource efficiency
  • Uses 100% of the raw materials and side streams as products and bioenergy
  • Does not use fossil fuels
  • Emphasises energy efficiency when choosing equipment and machinery
  • Has an operating model based on an efficient partner network
    • New products will be created in collaboration with various experts joining the network
    • Creates opportunities especially for small and medium-sized enterprises to produce innovative bio-products with high added value.

For the detailed press release, please click here.

For details of the bioproduct mill project, please click here.

The formation of Biomass101 – a consortium which aims to share the sound science of carbon-neutral bio-energy.

paperinsight bioeconomyA consortium of organisations formed from owners of forests, wood suppliers and major pulp and paper manufacturers has been recently established under the banner Biomass101. Collecting and sharing sound scientific information on carbon-neutral bio-energy, their aim is to provide informed information and hold the media accountable for for giving a fair and balanced view of the bio-economy.

The new consortium states:
‘We’ve started Biomass101 because we can’t sit idly by and watch the debate distorted by activists who, while they may have good intentions, are misguided and misinformed. That’s a part of responsible stewardship too—making sure people know the truth about the hands-on work we are doing each day. So we intend to monitor the coverage closely, and hold the press accountable when they get it wrong. As the leading coalition of people who care for and depend upon our forests, we offer a unique, first-hand perspective on these issues. And so we have a responsibility to add our voice to this conversation. Balanced coverage ought to mean scrutiny on the assumptions and motives of biomass critics, too. If they are pushing unrealistic, impractical, and harmful policies, then the press ought to be pointing that out.

The public deserves a fair, objective, and balanced conversation on carbon neutral biomass, one based on sound science, smart public policy, and common sense. Here are some of the core principles we intend to make sure are part of that conversation.

Educated guesses and willfully blinkered arguments that ignore the full carbon cycle do a disservice to a critical public discourse. Let’s have an honest discussion about carbon-neutral biomass, a dialogue that features openness, integrity, and accountability.’

For more details on the consortium, please click here .