Earlier this year Wood Products Extension was approached by members of Duke University’s Center for Sustainability and Commerce and North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management to collaborate on the project, “An Economic and Environmental Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry.” This will be a follow-up to an earlier report released in October, 2014, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biopreferred Program titled “Why Biobased? Opportunities in the Emerging Bioeconomy”. The “Why Biobased?” report can be found at https://www.biopreferred.gov/BPResources/files/WhyBiobased.pdf.
This series of reports was mandated in the most recent re-authorization of the Farm Bill. The joint team from Duke and NC State are leading the Report of Findings being undertaken for USDA, which will later be delivered to the Congress of the United States.
The current project has involved a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of specific bio-based segments within the U.S. economy, which were categorized under Agriculture and Forestry, Biorefining, Textiles and Apparels, Forest Products Manufacturing, Biochemicals, Enzymes, and Biobased Plastics and Packaging. The report is centered on Biobased Products and as such does not focus on biobased fuels or other energy sources except when analyzing co-products.
The significance of our present work is in part due to the lack of prior efforts to examine and quantify the impact of the U.S. Biobased Products industry from an economics, jobs, as well as environmental perspective. The findings of this report are intended to provide an initial effort and platform from which to build upon for future efforts, as more structured reporting and tracking mechanisms are developed.
We recently concluded obtaining our economic impact results and have begun drafting a report of our findings. Last month, we presented an update of our progress in a meeting with the Office of the Chief Economist at USDA in Washington DC, and the results were well received by all in attendance. A workshop for industry leaders is being planned for the summer that will offer an opportunity to comment and provide input on the report’s findings.
Team members for “An Economic and Environmental Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry” are Dr. Jay Golden, Duke University Center for Sustainability and Commerce; Dr. Robert Handfield, North Carolina State University Poole College of Management; Dr. Jesse Daystar, Duke University Center for Sustainability and Commerce; and Dr. Eric McConnell, North Carolina State University Department of Forest Biomaterials and Wood Products Extension.