Petroleum products in manufacture of plastic could be replaced by energy beets, according to ASBG
A research study supported by the federal government is expected to open the doors to a new market that could see beets replacing petroleum products in the manufacture of plastic bottles, polyester, and antifreeze, according to the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers (ASBG).
The ASBG has contracted Vancouver-based firm S2G BioChemicals Inc. in the hopes that they can prove Alberta-grown energy beets are a suitable feedstock for producing bio-glycol.
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Energy beets are a newly-developed strain of non-edible, hybrid beets developed to provide bio-glycol. Glycols are typically made from petroleum products and are used in brake fluids and man-made fibres. The non-toxic form of glycol is found in food, cosmetics, and personal hygiene products.
“Moving to commercial production of bio-glycols in Alberta would demonstrate the province’s willingness to invest in green technologies, as well as create jobs to construct and run a production facility costing upwards of $40 million,” said Mark Kirby, S2G BioChem’s president.
“With projected potential sales of over $100 million in the first five years, Alberta beet growers could be a part of a growing industry that is green in more ways than one.”
“We expect to start seeking investment for the project in early-2014.”
Sugar beets are used to produce the bags of sugar found on grocery store shelves.
However, as people move to healthier diets lower in calories and carbohydrates, demand for these products is declining, according to ASBG.
ASGB said that by using non-food energy beets for the production of bio-glycols, they hope there will be more demand for beet producers.
Member of Parliament LaVar Payne said on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz that $600,000 in federal funding would be provided to support this project.
“The federal government’s support tells us that we are on the right track with this value-added initiative,” said Rob Boras, president of ASBG.
“We are thrilled to have identified a technology that has the potential to create such high value from our crops as we strive to expand into sustainable markets for our membership.”
ASBG is a marketing board representing over 260 beet farmers in southern Alberta.