2016 Plants to Products Forum in June


How did Senator Angus King describe it, earlier this spring. . . ? Oh, that’s right. He said it was as devastating as “a natural disaster.”

In late March, with leaders from federal economic development agencies who were touring Maine’s Lincoln Lakes and Katahdin regions, King said, “What’s happened in the paper industry in Maine is like a natural disaster. We have lost six mills in five years."

The senator said about 1,400 direct paper jobs were lost, and  nearly twice that many jobs were “lost or compromised” in associated industries.

Clearly, Senator King thinks it’s critical to help the state’s forest products industries and create jobs for Maine people.

So does the group that’s producing the 2016 Plants to Products Forum.

BioBased Maine is a trade organization that supports biobased manufacturing as a clean, sustainable industry that can leverage Maine’s assets, create good-paying jobs, and help Maine profit in new ways from the renewable resources of forest, farm, and sea.

The 2016 Plants to Products Forum will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.,  Friday, May 3, at 51 Ingersoll Drive in Portland, the home of Maine Standard Biofuels, a sponsor of the event. Tickets are $80, including coffee break and lunch, and can be purchased here. Exhibit opportunities are available. More info at (207) 699-5792.

The forum will feature presentations by national biobased-business leaders, tours of a Portland-based biofuels business, a roundtable workshop for participants, and video remarks from Senator King.

Environmental Health Strategy Center is a sponsor of the event, as a public health organization working for a world where people are free of harm from toxic chemicals, and thriving in clearn, green, healthy economy that offers them jobs and economic opportunity. Access to job opportunities is a key social determinant of health.

Biobased products have less of a carbon footprint than products made from fossil fuels (oil and natural gas). Global demand for them is growing, substantially, as consumers and companies seek to replace products made from non-renewable sources with safer, more sustainable stuff. Many biobased products are compostable and biodegradable, which means that at the end of their useful life, they will break down readily, returning nutriments to the soil.

“People from novices to start-up entrepreneurs to global business leaders are signing up, for the forum,” said Charlotte Mace, Biobased Maine executive director. “Now is an exciting time to position Maine as a leader in making the next generation of renewable products and supplying the world with biobased products. Our state has abundant biomass, hard workers, world-class research and development capabilities, and industrial infrastructure.”

Mike Hamilton, chief executive officer of Pennsylvania-based Renmatix, will be the forum’s morning keynote speaker. Renmatix has become a global business leader by developing a cost-effective process for converting biomass such as wood chips into cellulosic sugars that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels and petrochemicals.

Bret Chisholm, cofounder of and chief technology officer at Renuvix LLC, will speak at noon about how his company has developed unprecedented biobased technology and secured the funding to launch Renuvix. The Fargo, North Dakota-based startup has developed a way to turn soybeans into nontoxic polymers that can replace unhealthful chemicals in diverse products including paint, plastics, and shampoo.

Alex Pine, outreach and technology coordinator for Maine Standard Biofuels, will welcome forum participants, who will have an opportunity to tour the biofuels facility before and during the event.

Additional event sponsors are Coastal Enterprises Institute (CEI), Grow-Tech, Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, and the Environmental Health Strategy Center. Additional exhibitors include Revolution Research and Maine International Consulting LLC.