The bio-economy is an exploding global market worth trillions of dollars that reflects a growing environmental sensibility and a paradigm shift towards products that come from natural renewable sources.
The study, called The New Face of the Canadian Forest Industry: the Emerging Bio-Revolution, demonstrates how the forest products industry of Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new bio-economy and exploit a potential global market of around $200 billion for bio-energy, bio-chemicals and bio-materials that can be extracted from trees. These products include everything from renewable fuels to lightweight plastics to non-toxic chemicals and food additives.
The project was guided by FPAC with essential partners including FPInnovations and the Canadian Forest Service with help from experts in fields such as bio-technology and carbon analysis.
"This study, which Natural Resources Canada is pleased to have supported, is helping to guide the exciting transformation that is underway in Canada's forest sector," said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources. "Our government is partnering with Canada's forest industry to build a more sustainable and prosperous future for our forest sector. We are proud to be part of this evolution."
"This has extraordinary implications for Canada's future prosperity," says Avrim Lazar, the President and CEO of FPAC. "This study produced a roadmap for a new business model that consolidates the economics of wood and pulp and paper production by extracting additional economic value from each tree harvested. This will have a huge economic, environmental and social impact for Canada," he says.
The report is the second phase of an exhaustive research study on how to best position the next generation forest products industry by extracting maximum value from every tree. The first phase broke new ground by showing the economic and job benefits of adding on new high- value products into existing lumber and pulp and paper mills. These integrated operations could increase the job potential by up to five times that of stand-alone bio-energy plants. The second phase shows that there are markets for these add-on products and it documents the path forward.
Led by FPAC, the Canadian forest industry is already rapidly approaching the highest environmental standards for forest management. Lazar says taking full advantage of all wood fibre will further Canada's market edge as a green supplier. "Many of these new products such as bio-chemicals and bio-plastics will replace materials now made from fossil fuels. In contrast, trees are renewable and part of nature's cycle. It also means more value from fewer trees and virtually zero waste. All in all, extracting numerous bio-materials from our vast forest resources will be a tremendous competitive advantage for Canada." he says.
"We've done our homework. Beyond the R&D, we now have the technologies to convert wood fibre into innovative and high value bio-products, including composite materials, specialty chemicals and bio-energy", says Pierre Lapointe, President and Chief Executive Officer of FPInnovations. "As part of the forest industry's transformation strategy, we are committed to maintaining our leadership role in implementing and commercializing these new bio-products. This is a big step forward in leading Canada into the new bio-age", concludes Lapointe.
FPAC is calling on government and the private sector to help build on the momentum. "This study's roadmap shows that if we get it right, there is immense economic potential," says Avrim Lazar. "It's now time to invest and embrace these prospects so that one of Canada's oldest industries can become a vital player in one of the newest sectors, the bio- economy."