"There are 4.2m jobs that have been generated from the bio-economy and those jobs can then create jobs in other sectors."
The effect of the bio-based economy is having a pronounced effect on employment and economic growth in the US thanks to major developments in renewable energies and bio-products, according to a report from a leading government organisation in the country. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy report analyses information across the bio-based spectrum including bio-diesel, bio-chemicals, feed-stocks and bio-based products. Giving a clear illustration of the progress that’s been made with bio-energy over the decades, the report showed ethanol production in the US had surpassed 14.7bn gallons – a rise of 8,000% from 1980 levels of 175m gallons.
In more recent years, the production of bio-diesel has also undergone a upturn in fortunes with a rise of 266% in the five years up to 2015, while the US has also exported more than 4.6bn kg of wood pellets that are often used in energy generation – a quantity, said the report, that makes the US the largest producer of the feed-stock by 3bn kg more than its immediate competitor.
Providing context on the positive impact that the bio-based industry has had on the US’s employment statistics, the report, which was co-authored by Jay S Golden and Janire Pascual-Gonzalez from East Carolina University and Robert Handfield from North Carolina State University, showed that the number of jobs nearly doubled for wood pellet production alone from around 17,000 to 30,000 between 2015 and 2016.
At this year’s World Bio Markets, David Babson, senior advisor at @USDA, said that the improved figures wasn’t just good news for the bio industry. "There are 4.2m jobs that have been generated from the bio-economy and those jobs can then create jobs in other sectors,” explained Babson during his talk Using the bio-economy as a tool for managing carbon. He added, however, that if the bio-economy is to kick on and provide yet more success, bio-based as a phrase needs to become part of everyday language.
It wasn’t all performance spikes in the USDA report, though. The number of waste-to-energy plants actually dropped from 86 in 2010 to 77 in 2016, with production and consumption of the landfill-generated energy staying the same between 2010 and 2011 at around 28m tonnes. The total production of electricity from waste between 2010 and 2015 did experience a rise, however, from around 19bn kw/h to 21.55bn kw/h, suggesting perhaps that efficiency developments have been made in the same period.
In related news, USDA last week officially approved a form of sustainably-produced bio-plastic for its BioPreferred Program. Manufactured by BioLogiQ, the accreditation now entitles the NuPlastiQ GP BioPolymer to carry and use the USDA 100% Certified Biobased Product label on its products that NuPlastiQ said would help with in its efforts to reduce global material usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
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