Soy Biobased Products Help Agencies Achieve Environmental Success
Keeping more than 90 pieces of equipment running smoothly at Fort Custer National Cemetery (FCNC), a 770-acre facility with more than 20,000 graves in south-central Michigan, is the job of mechanic Tim Trittschuh. Today, biodiesel blends and soy biobased lubricants have replaced petroleum-based fuel and lubricants at FCNC wherever possible. These efforts led to FCNC being honored today with the prestigious 2007 White House Closing the Circle Award.
FCNC is one of seven winners and honorable mention recipients that are using biobased products, many made from soybeans, as part of their overall environmental stewardship efforts. From the Department of Defense to the U.S. Postal Service, government facilities across the country are increasingly turning to the wide-range of biobased products available in the marketplace today to help achieve their environmental goals.
More than 40 categories of biobased products – made from natural, renewable, domestically produced resources like soybean oil – are available in the marketplace today. These products include biodiesel fuel, lubricants, a range of cleaning supplies, carpet backing, insulation, two-cycle engine oil and others. They can help reduce air and water pollution, the generation of hazardous waste and the use of potentially toxic substances. The 2002 Farm Bill calls for the federal government to purchase biobased products.
The United Soybean Board (USB) — supported by funding from the soybean checkoff — has helped to lay the foundation for increased use of soy biobased products, both in government and private industry. USB has invested in research and testing on performance as well as new uses for these products and educational outreach to government procurement officials.
In 2006, FCNC participated in one of a series of pilot projects using biobased products sponsored by the USB. Seeking ways to conserve oil in cemetery operations, Trittschuh was eager to try biobased products that were homegrown and less damaging to the environment. “All of the products we’ve used have worked as well— or better—than their non-biobased counterparts, and the equipment they are used in (or on) is performing normally,” reports Trittschuh.
“It is exciting to see that soy biobased products have again contributed to the environmental achievements of winners of the Closing the Circle awards,,” said United Soybean Board Domestic Marketing Committee Chair Chuck Myers, a soybean farmer from Lyons, Nebraska. “Biobased products are environmentally friendly and very effective. We hope these federal successes will encourage other federal agencies as well as state, county and city governments that are looking for products that offer environmental benefits, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and boost the U.S. economy.”
Federal Executive Order 13101 “Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition” established the Closing the Circle Awards program, The order has expanded and strengthened the Federal government’s commitment to waste prevention, recycling and buying recycled content and environmentally preferable products and services, including biobased products. The Awards recognize government agency’s and their employees’ efforts to have a positive impact on the environment. The 2007 Awards were presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
This year, 17 winners and 13 honorable mentions were selected from nearly 200 nominations in the areas of environmental management systems; pollution prevention; recycling; green product purchasing; alternative fuels; sustainable building and electronics stewardship. The winners and honorable mention recipients that use soy biobased products include: the U.S. Air Force; U.S. Marine Corps.; U.S. Postal Service; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture. More information about all of the award winners can be found on the web at: www.ofee.gov.
The USB is composed of 64 U.S. soybean farmers appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to invest soybean checkoff funds. The soybean checkoff is a farmer-supported marketing and research fund collected on each bushel of U.S. soybeans sold. USB invests these funds on behalf of the 680,000 U.S. soybean farmers in activities specifically designed to increase the global utilization of U.S. soybeans and to reduce production costs. Checkoff-funded investment areas include human and animal health and nutrition, research and development of new uses, and research to improve soybean composition and production efficiencies.
In addition, USB has produced a catalog of currently available soy biobased products as well as profiles of success in biobased products use, which are available on the USB website atwww.soybiobased.org.