Growing Connections for a Sustainable Economy


At the Strategy Center, our work highlights the urgent need to end our reliance on petroleum-based plastics. Not only can these materials pose a threat to human health and our climate, they’re also unsustainably sourced from fossil fuels (particularly from fracked natural gas) and create overwhelming pollution.   

This is a problem with a solution. It’s time to usher in a new sustainable economy: one based on renewable biobased materials sourced from forest, farm, and sea. 

Our Sustainable Economy Program seeks to bolster manufacturing of biobased materials and grow green jobs in our home state of Maine. Charlotte Mace, director of our Sustainable Economy Program and partner trade organization Biobased Maine, made new connections and promoted Maine’s growing biobased sector at three global conferences this year.

Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) 2017
March 1-3, Washington, D.C.

The Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference is a major U.S. networking event for those in the biofuels industry, in particular, but also technology companies and investors interested in higher-value biobased chemicals.

Coming only months after the presidential inauguration, the conference theme was “Performance and Value in the Trump Era.” The conference organizers asked: “Who will advance under a new Administration with its own ideas about priorities on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, domestic manufacturing, energy security and trade deals? Who will falter?”

At this year's event, there was a strong contingent from Maine, including Governor Paul LePage and representatives from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. Biobased Maine's exhibit, along with the exhibit of the University of Maine's Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, showed the abundant assets that Maine has to support a growing biobased manufacturing industry.

Bio-Based Live Europe
May 31-June 1, Amsterdam

The second annual Bio-Based Live Europe focused on fostering connections and growing new opportunities for biobased companies to bring new products from the lab to the market. “We understand that in an emerging industry like ours the journey from innovation in a laboratory to profitable commercialization can be a difficult one,” the organizers say. “It can be a complex and often costly ecosystem where collaboration is essential to ensure the biobased industry achieves what we all believe it can.”

Ahead of the conference, organizers interviewed Charlotte about her work with Biobased Maine. "Bio-based is the future, we all know that,” Charlotte noted, “and within the industry, forest residuals and agricultural waste are the future."

Maine demonstrates this: the state has large volumes of wood from sustainably managed forests that currently lack markets, while many large brands are very interested in incorporating sustainable raw materials (such as Maine trees) into their supply chains.

The major brands attending Bio-Based Live Europe proved how important it was for Biobased Maine to have a presence. Major brands included Corbion, Method, Tetrapak, IKEA, H&M, and LEGO, which have sustainability commitments that are driving them to look deeper into their supply chains to include more biobased raw materials. LEGO, for example, is committing substantial resources into replacing its plastic with a biobased alternative.

2017 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology
July 23-26, Montreal

The World BIO Congress 2017 was a coming-together of hundreds of biotechnology industry professionals, technology companies, and representatives from the world's geographies. As the world’s largest biotechnology trade association, conference organizers write, “the mission of BIO is to be the champion of biotechnology and the advocate for its member organizations—both large and small.”

Conference attendees included young startups and Fortune 500 multinationals, alongside state and regional biotech associations, service providers to the industry, and academic centers. All attendees were committed to grabbing market share in the rapidly growing global markets for biobased products.

Biobased Maine's exhibit at this conference established Maine as a global player in the biobased technology space, alongside regions with growing biobased industries such as Australia, Holland, and Canada.

Interested in learning more about our Sustainable Economy Program? Click here.