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Polymer exec backs bio-based products at hearing

Bio-based products are competitive with petroleum-based products at current petroleum price levels, a key polymer executive told the Senate Agriculture Committee today.

Mark Verbruggen, president and CEO of NatureWorks LLC, said there is demand from packaging manufacturers in Ohio for corn-based low-carbon footprint packaging and from auto manufacturers in Michigan for products such as soy-based polyurethene foams.

Verbruggen testified at a hearing on rural job growth through bio-based manufacturing and energy efficiency. His company is a Minneapolis subsidiary of Cargill with a manufacturing plant in Blair, Neb.

The combination of agricultural productivity and innovation in bio-polymer technology uniquely qualifies the United States to benefit from the bio-polymer industry, Verbruggen told Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. But he said government policy needs to focus on bringing the innovations to scale through competitive research grants and tax policy on manufacturing.