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Monday, June 30, 2014  
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BREAKING NEWS STORIES FROM THE PCA

USDA BioPreferred® Program Expanded to Include Intermediate, Renewable Chemicals

Industries with Innovative, Long-Standing Green Practices Becoming Eligible for the USDA’s BioPreferred Program

Fernandina Beach, FL (June 26, 2014) — Speaking on June 17 at the “Innovation and Agriculture Grow Together” conference sponsored by the United Soybean Board in Washington, DC, Charles Morris, President and COO of the Pine Chemicals Association praised the USDA’s BioPreferred program for its expansion to include eligibility of complex products and intermediate renewable chemicals. The program certifies and labels products as bio-based and promotes bio-based products that apply an innovative approach to any of the steps in the production process regardless of the date of entry into the marketplace. 

“The USDA has taken an enlightened approach to enable a wide spectrum of existing and new industries to participate in the BioPreferred program,” Mr. Morris noted. “The broader definition of qualifying products is good news for industries long committed to best practices in sustainability and good news for the expanding the bioeconomy.”

Mr. Morris stressed that as consumers demand more sustainable products, manufacturers seek suppliers that use biorenewable raw materials. ““Under the current guidelines we expect pine chemicals to qualify for the USDA Certified Bio-based Product Label before the end of the year. It only makes sense to include established bio-based industries that innovate and add value to business and society in the program.” Mr. Morris pointed out that pine chemicals are used in many consumer products including flavors and fragrances, vitamin intermediates, disinfectants, inks, adhesives and paints.

The pine chemicals industry operates complex biorefineries that process Crude Tall Oil (CTO) and Crude Sulphate Turpentine (CST), co-products of the pulp and papermaking process. In the U.S. the pine chemicals industry is a multibillion dollar business, directly employing over 2,000 highly skilled workers. Downstream, the industry supports more than $10 billion in economic output and 18,700 workers in customer industries.

Begun as part of the 2002 Farm Bill and updated most recently in 2014, the BioPreferred program certifies products as bio-based and encourages government agencies to purchase certified products preferentially. The labelling aspect of the program serves as an unbiased indicator of bio-based content...READ MORE

Wanted: An EU Biofuels Policy that Is Fair for All

Charles Morris, CEO, Pine Chemicals Association  June 25, 2014  

At the beginning of 2014, the European Commission unveiled a policy framework for climate and energy from 2020 to 2030. In a controversial move, the Commission stated that it “does not think it appropriate to establish new targets for renewable energy or greenhouse gas intensity of fuels used in the transport sector or any other sub-sector after 2020.”

Find more information on the policy framework here.

Instead, the Commission suggested that policy development moving forward should take a “more holistic and integrated approach” on improving the transport system and in the development and deployment of biofuels. This decision has biofuel manufacturers on edge: Without new targets mandated they may lose financial assistance in the form of the subsidies and tax breaks them and their distributors depend on to keep their plants up and running.

The Commission’s “no new fuel targets” decision is right on target, as is its call for “an improved biomass policy.” Biomass used in the production of biofuels has been a source of controversy ever since corn-based ethanol was introduced. The Commission now calls for a policy that:

  • Maximizes the “resource efficient use of biomass.” Biomass should be used to its fullest capacity and for the right ends.
  • Delivers robust and verifiable greenhouse gas savings. Data that is based only on fossil fuel and GHG comparisons are flawed and do not give the full emissions and carbon footprint picture.
  • Allows for fair competition between the various industries that use biomass resources. Fair competition means an even playing field for the biofuels industry and other industries that use the same feedstocks. An even, free market playing field results in a more dynamic bioeconomy with greater growth potential.

Using Biomass Efficiently

There are bio-industries already contributing to making a strong bioeconomy. The pine chemicals industry, for example, has efficiently utilized co-products from papermaking to produce a multitude of innovative industrial chemicals and consumer products. The industry maximizes the full value of its biorenewable raw material Crude Tall Oil (CTO) by “cascading use.”

Cascading use (see graphic below) is the thorough utilization of the value chain of a product to take advantage of each new co-product and to create additional value-added products, until 100 percent of each co-product’s potential has been harnessed.  Only when no new value-added products can be created should the “waste” or “residue” be converted into energy if that is the most efficient use of what remains...READ MORE

Use of critical feedstock in biofuel threatens a bio-industry

WRITTEN BY CHARLES MORRIS

The production of biofuels has long been mired in controversy – especially over the highly contentious issue of which feedstocks are appropriate to use in making the fuels.

Indirect land use change (ILUC) has been a hot topic since it became clear that using edible crop-based feedstocks created a number of unintended consequences. Food prices have soared and research1 has shown that ethanol’s carbon footprint was higher than originally thought. In need of new sources for large volume biofuel feedstocks, biofuel manufacturers have recently turned to wood-based biomass.

This approach to biomass consumption creates yet another set of unintended consequences. Vibrant bio-based industries in the European Union and worldwide are being damaged and their contributions to achieving a successful bioeconomy are undervalued – or worse, ignored. 

There are several factors causing this counter-productive situation: 

  • Core biomass feedstocks of long-standing innovative industries are being misclassified as residues or waste by some member countries. The error arises when the feedstock is not properly recognized as a co-product that has been processed to give it added value for use in a range of industries. That means that rather than maximize the use of biomass feedstock it is used for a purpose that may not realize its full value. 
     
  • With the waste or residue classification, these essential feedstocks are eligible for use in biofuels and are being diverted to that subsidized industry. The result is artificially increased prices for wood- and wood-based co-products because the biofuels industry is supported with tax subsidies and incentives – estimated at tens of millions of Euros of taxpayer money.2 This gives the biofuels industry an unfair advantage over other industries.

  • Governments are relying on incomplete and flawed greenhouse gas emission studies in determining the environmental benefits of biofuels. Solid scientific evidence about product life cycles must be assessed by policymakers to enable them to make fully-informed  decisions regarding biofuel subsidies and mandates.

It seems that the European Commission is starting to realize that existing policies may be doing more harm than good. At the beginning of 2014, the EC introduced a policy framework for climate and energy from 2020 to 2030. It recommended a “more holistic and integrated approach” to creating an efficient transport system and biofuels policy. The EC also called for “an improved biomass policy” to “maximize the resource efficient use of biomass in order to deliver robust and verifiable greenhouse gas savings and to allow for fair competition between the various uses of biomass resources in the construction sector, paper and pulp industries and biochemical and energy production.”

The experience of one industry vying for the same constrained feedstock as some biofuel manufacturers shows that the EC is moving in the right direction in creating a balanced marketplace based on a thorough analysis of biomass policy impacts...READ MORE


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