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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Media Advisory: Ohio State Expert Available to Speak on Obama’s Administration Decision Announced Today To Buy More Bio-based Products

February 29, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The announcement today from the Obama Administration on its plans to increase purchasing by the federal government of bio-based products could mean a significant financial boost for Ohio, which ranks No. 1 in terms of polymer employment, has a major bio-based product industry and is a strong agricultural producer, an Ohio State University Extension expert said. 

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, according to a statement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The announcement will also result in a 50 percent 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, Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University. This is significant, considering that the polymer and specialty chemical industry in Ohio is estimated to have an economic impact of $89 billion, he said.

The announcement is also significant, considering Ohio ranks No. 1 in polymer employment, Hall said. 

“We’re No. 1 in paints and coatings, rubber, adhesives, and cleaners and detergents producers and  manufacturers,” he said. “As those companies innovate, they’re looking for bio-based materials. 

“Job creation is where Ohio will see its greatest benefit.” 

Ohio is also a large agricultural state, which means an abundance of bio-based materials and more jobs opportunities,” Hall 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. 

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 department said.

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.”

Dennis Hall