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Biochemistries Get Boost from the Obama Administration

Posted on 6/8/2012 9:34:17 AM By Jeff Timm
  

I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs the importance of packaging in a company’s sustainability program.  Many times packaging serves as the company’s visible connector to their customer base.  The consumer/customer impression of the package sustainability reflects on the whole company sustainability image.

I’ve also previously drawn on the connector between bioplastics as a potential integral component of packaging and the tremendous effort occurring in the chemical industry to develop ‘green’ chemistries.  Many of these will replace the petrochemical components of traditional plastics used in the packaging and adhesive industry.

Another boost to this movement occurred when the Obama administration recently announced a broad plan to foster innovation and development of the nation’s “bioeconomy,” including the use of renewable resources and biological manufacturing methods.  The National Bioeconomy Blueprint discusses a variety of measures and strategies to spur research and development in the areas of health, agriculture,  energy, the environment and biological manufacturing processes that would replace traditional products and processes. 

Biotechnology “can allow Americans to live longer, healthier lives, reduce our dependence on oil, address key environmental challenges, transform manufacturing processes, and increase the productivity and scope of the agricultural sector while growing new jobs and industries,” the Blueprint says.

The Blueprint consists of five major objectives:

  • Support R&D investments that will provide the foundation for the future U.S. bioeconomy
  • Facilitate the transition of bioinventions from research lab to market, including an increased focus on translational and regulatory sciences
  • Develop and reform regulations to reduce barriers, increase the speed and predictability of regulatory processes, and reduce costs while protecting human and environmental health
  • Update training programs and align academic institution incentives with student training for national workforce needs
  • Identify and support opportunities for the development of public-private partnerships and precompetitive collaborations - where competitors pool resources, knowledge, and expertise to learn from successes and failures

The US is not alone in trying to develop the bioeconomy.  Other countries are also pursuing biotechnology plans. The European Commission adopted its strategy earlier in the year.  There are differences in the two plans where the US is based on all biotechnology including medical and pharmaceuticals and the European plan is focused solely on sustainable industrial processes.

How does this renewed emphasis and activity affect the packaging and adhesive industry?  As stated in previous blogs the key word is ‘opportunity’.  Any time innovation gets commercialized there is market disruption resulting in winners and losers--think iPad® vs. laptops where HP just recently announced it was laying off 27,000 employees.  This is an opportunity for companies to get involved in the bioeconomy by collaborating with other companies and suppliers and brand owners or the government to contribute to the many opportunities available.  If you are not particularly strong on the R & D end then be the first to run trials and develop a new offering based on some new technology breakthrough even if it means cannibalizing some of your base business.  If you don’t your competitor will.

Are there examples in your businesses where the new bioeconomy has helped or hurt your business?



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