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USDA Report Highlights the Impact of  Biobased Economy in the US

USDA Report Highlights the Impact of  Biobased Economy in the US

Biobased Economy is booming in the US

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published a report which outlines the economic impact that the biofuel and bioenergy industry has made in the US. The report measures factors such as economic growth, job creation and average household income associated with the biobased economy, and also forecasts anticipated future growth in biobased products and renewable chemicals.

The report shows that the biobased economy is playing an increasingly important role in the U.S. Economy, and that innovations in renewable energy together with a new generation of biobased products have resulted in a surge in the biobased economy, translating into job creation and a growing economy in this sector.

The report analyzed and compared data pertaining to the biobased economy from 2011 with data collected in 2016 in the hope of gaining a clearer understanding of trends in the industry.

The data reveals a significant increase in liquid biofuel production, with ethanol production in the US rising substantially from 175 million gallons in 1980 to over 14.7 billion gallons being produced in 2015. The number of plants producing ethanol has also risen, with 199 plants in existence in 2016, and a further three plants under construction. The ethanol production industry currently provides more than 270,000 Americans with jobs.

Biodiesel production also increased substantially within the five year period from 2010 to 2015, rising from 343 million gallons in 2010 to 1.26 billion gallons five years later in 2015. The use of soybean for biodiesel production increased from 670 million pounds in 2005 to 4.1 billion pounds in 2012.

Solid biofuel production has also seen significant growth, with wood pellet production from the southeastern parts of America now adding a significant contribution to the bioenergy industry. The USA is the biggest exporter of wood pellets globally, exporting over 4.6 million metric tons in 2016 alone.

The production of biobased products and renewable chemicals has also seen some growth over recent years, with production of USDA BioPreferred certified biobased products and renewable chemicals having risen from 1,800 in 2014 to 2,900 in 2016. When looking at the entire biobased products marketplace in the US, the figure is higher still, having increased from around 17,000 in 2008 to an approximately 40,000 in 2014. It is estimated that the biobased products industry has provided jobs for 4.22 people in 2014, which in turn contributes value to the US economy in general, estimated to be in the region of 393 billion dollars in 2014 alone.
According to Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s Industrial & Environmental Section, “The biobased economy is approaching a tipping point in its growth and maturation. The economic impact is evident.”
Download the full report, titled “Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy,” here.  
Featured Image by Legacy Building Solutions, via Wikimedia Commons [CC-BY-SA-4.0]
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