The chemicals and plastics sectors, with combined exports of $33.8 billion in 2005, stand to become champions of Ontario's new bioproduct economy. As bioproducts growth continues, both sectors will benefit through intertwined value chains and innovative solutions to pressing environmental and feedstock problems. Solvents, lubricants, paints, fillers and plastics could all become more biobased with ingredients from renewable feedstock sectors.
The Ontario BioAuto Council is helping this happen through partnerships with other networks, such as the Ontario Hybrid Council. It's one of the Council's close partners, designed to help chemical companies link to forestry and agriculture. The end goal is to produce chemical intermediates, plastics and fibre composites for applications such as automotive parts and green chemicals.
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is on a parallel course. In its 2006 technology roadmap, the association cites advanced engineering technologies that will see renewable feedstocks combined with traditional plastics for more sustainable products. This roadmap also includes more ideas for bioplastics reuse and recycling, to help prepare for renewability in future life-cycle planning.
Indeed, renewable feedstocks will come in many forms. A clear leader is Mirel Natural Plastics, a joint venture between bioscience-leader Metabolix and agri-food giant Archer Daniels Midland, which is set to produce 110 million pounds of bioplastic yearly from specialized microbes and corn sugar. Another example is soy oil, which has long been chemically refined to create a quality-enhancing ink base. The Ontario BioAuto Council will support the commercialization of such bioproduct ventures in the chemicals and plastics sectors.