Ag-based Products Help With Sustainability
As the 6 a.m. alarm sounds, you hop out of bed, pad across the carpet to the closet, pull out your favorite running gear and suit up. As you move through the bland beige kitchen, you decide to finally attack that paint job you’ve been putting off since fall – right after the morning coffee, of course. As you plunge into the clean, cool spring air, you realize the driveway could use a little freshening up, too.
Now, how about doing it all just a little greener, a bit more sustainably? Save a barrel or two of petroleum while putting a bushel or two of corn or soybeans to work? Improve the world’s environmental footprint at your own doorstep?
With more homeowners embracing the do-it-yourself philosophy of rehab and renovation and the allure of a greener lifestyle, a selection of new “biobased” products continues to emerge. Companies ranging from Illinois-based Franmar Chemical to chemical giant DuPont want to capitalize on that demand.
Kathryn Lee, global marketing manager for DuPont Industrial Biosciences’ Sorona line of corn-based polymers, fibers and textiles, deems the commercialization of Sorona-based carpeting “one of our great success stories.”
Sorona production offers a 30 percent reduction in energy use and a 63 percent reduction in greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions compared to petroleum-based materials such as nylon. DuPont has partnered with Mohawk to produce Sorona-based carpeting marketed in North America under the SmartTrend brand and now in Europe as AMAIZE. Lee stressed Sorona serves as merely a starting point for what she hopes will prove “a large and profitable pipeline of innovation to come.”
“Sorona is just one example of sustainable solutions using biotechnology, renewable feedstocks and biobased materials and building blocks to really meet the needs of a growing global population,” she says. “Yes, it’s biobased and it’s renewably sourced, but on top of that you get some great performance advantages and attributes which, at the end of the day, are what are going to win over consumers.”
Like DuPont, Franmar is developing a global market for its soy-based products. Headquartered in Bloomington, Franmar has enjoyed market growth in gel solvents for paint removal from floors, walls and furniture, according to Market Director Jason Davenport “with no smells or hazards.” Franmar also makes mastic removal products that replace mechanical or petroleum alternatives for cleaning residual carpet adhesive prior to renovation. The company’s VeraSafe concrete etcher effectively “sands” driveways for refinishing.
You can’t find Franmar’s products in the big-box home improvement outlets, as owner Frank Sliney subscribes to supporting smaller chains such as True Value and Ace Hardware, as well as mom-and-pop stores. Nearly 90 percent of the company’s sales are in the U.S., but its customer base now extends to Australia, Canada, China and Germany.
“We’re seeing quite a bit of interest and growth in people looking for friendly, biobased replacement products,” Davenport says.
For more information about biobased products made from Illinois corn, go to biopreferred.gov.
For biobased products made from Illinois soybeans, visit soynewuses.org.