Author Archives: Lauralee

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Bioplastics Manufacturer Right Here in Maine!

Congratulations to Biovation LLC, a member of the Sustainable Bioplastics Council of Maine, for earning the BioPreferred label from the USDA in its Packaging Materials category. The USDA label assures consumers that a product or package contains a verified amount of renewable biological ingredients. Biovation is among one of the first in Maine to produce products earning the BioPreferred status. Instead of petroleum-based materials, Biovation’s food packaging pad uses polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from cornstarch. It is all natural, biodegradable, compostable, bio-absorbable, and non-toxic! Read more here.

avatar Lauralee

Maine is Creating Clean Green Jobs…Lots of them!

Did you hear the latest on the ‘Clean’ Green Economy in Maine?  It’s pretty exciting! Here’s the gist: the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan research institute, found Maine created more clean jobs than the national rate. (4% compared to the nation’s 3.4%). Exactly how many since 2003? Oh, just 12,000. That’s ENORMOUS and encouraging. In my job, we are creating the next phase of green jobs in Maine. There is potential to grow green jobs in rural Maine through the production of nontoxic, petroleum-free, compostable plastic made from Maine potatoes and wood chips. We are partnering with agriculture, education and business to create the bioplastics sector and we organized a trade association called the Sustainable Bioplastics Council of Maine to help us do that.  Economic research at the University of Maine identified the market potential for bioplastics as significant and can create as many as 850 jobs. Said another way, the current percentage of bioplastics in the whole plastics industry is about 1%. The expectation however is for this percentage to grow to as much as 10% by 2020. The potential for job creation is real and we will continue to be part of it!

avatar Lauralee

Create Some Chemistry! Green Chemistry!

Kermit the frog has said, ‘it is not easy being green.’ After spending two inspirational days in Boston at the EPA Regional Science Workshop on Sustainable Green Chemistry, I disagree. It is becoming increasingly easier and more profitable to be green. I’m excited and energized because Green Chemistry is an important piece of the Sustainable Economy work at the Environmental Health Strategy Center (EHSC).

EHSC was one of the only representatives from Maine out of over 100 people present from a diverse group of stakeholders including government, education, business, venture capital, advocacy/NGO, and health care. The common thread? ALL were passionate and committed to Sustainable Green Chemistry. The tone was set early on Monday by talking about Green Chemistry not only as an environmental agenda but an economic, educational and community agenda. I couldn’t agree more! Our bioplastics project is all about providing a higher performance product that is better for our health, better for our environment and better for the economy. We are at an interesting cross roads and there is profound opportunity for New England to be a catalyst for others across the country on the need for safer chemicals.

Here are a few highlights of the successes and momentum building for Green Chemistry: using green chemical principles in producing new pharmaceutical products; a Connecticut high school Chemistry teacher incorporating green chemistry principals into her curriculum that above all, minimize current exposure of dangerous chemicals for teachers and students (and having fun while doing it!); the latest on cancer research related to harmful chemicals and the President’s Cancer Panel report supporting Green Chemistry initiatives; clear support for promoting greener, safer chemicals from top EPA officials; and a discussion on world wide impact of Green Chemistry and what countries like China and India are already doing…to name a few.

So what exactly is Green Chemistry? Green Chemistry protects human health and the environment while creating economic and job growth for societal benefit now and into the future. New England is taking the lead in redesigning materials from the get go to be safer and healthier for ourselves and our planet. At the EHSC, we want Maine to be in on the action. We also want you to spread the word. I met a Unity student, Tyler, doing an internship with the EPA. Tyler recently learned the term Green Chemistry and he couldn’t be more excited about it. Let’s spread the excitement and start thinking about what we all can do to Create Some Chemistry….Green Chemistry.

The 12 Principles of Green Chemicals

avatar Lauralee

Pepsi, the Choice of a New Generation…of plastic bottles!

On my drive to our Bangor office yesterday morning, I heard a brief NPR story about the newest Cola War between Pepsi and Coke – ‘Green bottles.’

This week, Pepsi unveiled a new bottle made entirely of plant material – switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. Coke fired back with a statement saying (in so many words), “Oh yeah, we have a bottle that will be 100% green too!” That’s right, two of the largest soda companies are fighting over who is reducing their carbon footprint more. Awesome!

I started getting super excited about the possibilities right here in Maine for providing companies with the materials for bio-based products that create good jobs and products that are safe for our families.

We have ideas – what we need is capital. Without funds for research and development, Maine could miss out on a golden opportunity for new industries and the jobs they would create. That’s why we’re working to support and pass three bond initiatives at the State House that would fund Research and Development on using Maine’s Natural Resources sustainably. I want Maine to be on the cutting edge of green technology. Just think of the possibilities!

avatar Lauralee

Fostering Cutting Edge Technology…except in Congress.

It’s been a really exciting first week at the Environmental Health Strategy Center! I started last Monday as the organization’s new Sustainable Economy Program Manager.

What exactly will I be doing? Helping to foster cutting edge technology that’s environmentally responsible, makes people happy and HEALTHY, and creates jobs in our local economies. More specifically, I will be working with businesses and leaders all over Maine to manufacture products, materials and chemicals that are cleaner, safer and more environmentally sustainable.

With rising evidence of harm from existing products, these goals couldn’t be more important… which is why I am perplexed after reading the latest headline out of Washington, DC. John Boehner, new House Speaker in Washington, is reversing the capitol building cafeteria policy of using a safer alternative to regular plastic. His office was so excited about it, in fact, that one of his staffers tweeted: “The new majority-plasticware is back.”

You read that right. Petroleum based plastics are making a comeback in Congress after former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, took steps to reduce our carbon footprint by initiating green alternatives like biodegradable corn starch.

I hope we don’t continue to take or celebrate any more steps backward like this. EHSC does both safer chemicals and sustainable economy work because we know we need to phase out the worst chemicals to protect health and create safer products as alternatives. We believe in a future where our health is protected in a sustainable economy. There is obviously much work to be done! Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more about what’s on tap with our Sustainable Economy program (