Sarnia-Lambton Bio-Economy Going Global

Bio-Industrial Innovation Canada (BIC) advisor Murray McLaughlin at the Bio-Industrial Symposium 2017. June 14, 2017 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

Sarnia-Lambton’s bio-economy is attracting attention not just nationally, but globally.

BioIndustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) advisor Murray McLaughlin, who stepped down as BIC Executive Director last year, just returned from Europe where people seemed very excited about what we’re doing here.

“They say they get the feeling that we’re doing it right,” says McLaughlin. “Some of them have been here, some of them haven’t… but the whole fact that we’re building a value chain from farmer co-ops all the way through to making sugars and taking the sugars and making chemicals and really building that whole value chain, they really see that as the real way to build the bio-economy.”

McLaughlin says we’re the only place in the world right now that has that particular value chain developing between farmers and the Comet production facility for sugars and BioAmber to make chemicals.

“So, I look at this to continue to add to that value chain and as we build other companies in this community, how do we make them become value chains as well,” he says.  “I think that’s really the way to build a bio-economy business and make it last long term.”

McLaughlin was one of 11 speakers at the Bio-Industrial Symposium at Pt. Edward’s Best Western Guildwood Inn on Wednesday.

About 120 people attended the one day event focused on presentations from local, federal and provincial agricultural representatives and funding agencies, processing industries, biochemical and bio material industries.

Comet BioRefining is working to build a new $70-million manufacturing plant on the TransAlta site in Sarnia, which will use corn stover and wheat straw to produce high-purity cellulosic sugar that can be used to manufacture plastics, lubricants, paints and other forms of bio-based products.

Montreal-based BioAmber expects a decision on a second manufacturing plant in North America will come in the third quarter of this year.

The company is looking at building a new facility in either Sarnia or Louisiana.