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In the last decade, the word “sustainability” has gone from a narrowly used term to one heard in corporate boardrooms, universities and government agencies around the world.

Most major corporations and universities now employ sustainability directors, signaling the issue’s priority. In Indiana, we also are working hard to reduce our environmental footprint. The good news is improving our environment also can be a win for our Indiana economy.

Indiana soybean farmers are contributing to the effort to reduce our environmental footprint. When soybeans are processed, the result is 80 percent meal (used for human and animal feed) and 20 percent oil (some of which is used for food, but most of which is surplus).

Abundantly available soybean oil makes it possible for companies to reduce the petroleum content in commercial and industrial products. Manufacturers of all sizes use soybean oil in hundreds of biobased products, including road material paints, carpet backing, lubricants and cleaning supplies.

Consumers win with products that curb dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Soy products can offer environmental and health benefits, such as lower volatile organic compounds, reduced exposure to toxic chemicals and less irritation from odors.

The overall biobased-product industry’s growth is generating substantial economic activity and American jobs through manufacturers’ use of many agricultural materials, including soybean oil. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the biobased products industry contributed $393 billion to the U.S. economy and supported 4.2 million American jobs.

Biobased products have displaced about 6.8 million barrels of oil a year and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year.

As part of South Shore Clean Cities’ 2017 Annual Meeting and Awards luncheon, we will partner with the United Soybean Board to host an educational session showcasing how local, state and national governmental entities and the private sector have successfully reduced their environmental footprints using biobased products.

Chris Case, United Soybean Board biobased coach, will share his knowledge of biobased products with a focus on options for road construction/maintenance, pavement marking, fleet operations, facilities maintenance and more.

Case has won national awards for his environmental work, having served as the facilities manager for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan.

There is no charge to participate in the session, and all are welcome to attend. The event is scheduled from 2:45-3:45 p.m. today at the Blue Chip Hotel & Spa, 777 Blue Chip Drive in Michigan City.

To learn more about soy biobased products and how they can help you reduce your environmental footprint, visit www.soybiobased.org.

Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.

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