North Carolina’s bioproducts-focused industry, ranging from biofuels to forest products and textiles, generated some 90,000 jobs and added more than $6 billion to the U.S. economy to rank among the nation’s leaders, a new study says.
U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that North Carolina ranked second among new bioproducts sector jobs with 90,040 created between 2013 and 2014.
The $6.4 additional value the state generated in bioproducts was good for fifth place.
“In the face of market challenges posed by record low oil prices, the biobased sector has fared exceedingly well and expanded in size,” said Rob Handfield, Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management at the NC State Poole College of Management about the study’s findings.
The USDA report, Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry, is the second such annual collection of data that focuses on advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased product manufacturing efforts.
Overall in 2014, the biobased products industry was responsible for 4.2 million jobs and $393 billion in economic impact, the USDA said.
From 2013 to 2014, some 220,000 jobs were added and the economic value grew by $24 billion.
“When USDA released the first-ever Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry last year, we were thrilled to see what a positive impact this sector was having on our economy, and this updated analysis shows that the sector is not just holding strong, but growing,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “America has an appetite for everyday products-including plastic bottles, textiles, cleanings supplies and more-made from renewable sources, and that demand is fueling millions of jobs, bringing manufacturing back to our rural communities, and reducing our nation’s carbon footprint. As this sector is strengthening, so is the economy in rural America, where this year the unemployment rate dropped below six percent for the first time since 2007. USDA is proud to see such strong returns on our investment into the biobased products industry.”
Beyond jobs and economic impact, other benefits include reduction of fossil fuel use and production of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the USDA.
“The production and use of biobased products replacing petroleum-based products had the potential to reduce GHG emissions up to 10 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents in 2014,” the USDA said.
“These materials are increasingly being used as substitutes for petroleum-based materials, which have been used extensively for many years. An example of this petroleum displacement by a biobased material is the use of natural fibers in packing and insulating materials as an alternative to synthetic foams, such as Styrofoam. The increased use of biobased products currently displaces about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year – the equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.”