By YANAN CHEN
Capital News Service
LANSING—More than 60 companies in Michigan are participating in the federal BioPreferred Program to boost the manufacture and distribution of biobased products.
The federal initiative aims to increase the development, purchase and use of biobased products. They are renewable and environmentally friendly or organic products made from agricultural, forestry or marine materials. Products range from bed linens and towels to greases and cleaners.
The program was introduced to reduce the impacts of climate change and create jobs through expanding markets for farmers, manufacturers and vendors, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The program has designated more than 5,000 products for federal preferred purchase and includes companies that manufacture or distribute designated items in Grand Rapids, Shelby Township, Zeeland, Detroit and Holland.
4R Future in Holland joined the initiative from a desire to show people how to live healthier by adding green, environmentally friendly and natural products to their lives, according to the company.
Its products include bath, body care, pet and paper products wholly or partly made with organically grown ingredients like grapefruit seed, pulp extract and orange peel extract.
Another participant, Microcide, Inc. in Detroit, produces mouthwash, soaps and fruit-and-vegetable-based cleaning products.
Bob Robinson, president of the Michigan Biopreferred Products Association, said he believes biobased products have a tremendous future and that emerging bio-industries are becoming the foundation of a new economy for the state and nation.
“We reduce our dependence on energy and use natural resources to produce products, which creates a far more sustainable economy for the future,” Robinson said.
But he said there’s not enough public awareness of the availability of such products. “Some people don’t know there are biodegradable trash bags available, and our job is to make them know and promote the biobased products.”
As for the future, he said Michigan can be a leading place for biobased businesses because of its rich and diverse supply of natural resources.
© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.