$100 thousand grant award supports environmental sustainable economic development strategy for Maine

An organic farm based in Fairfield, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

By Ramona du Houx

The Elmina B. Sewall Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant for an innovative project, called Plants to Products, to promote biobased manufacturing in Maine, which aims to convert sustainably harvested wood chips and agricultural waste into value-added renewable chemicals, biobased plastics, and advanced biofuels.

“We applaud the foundation for investing in Maine’s future – good jobs, safer products, healthier communities, and environmental sustainability,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, nonprofit organization that leads the Plants to Products initiative.

The promise of Plants to Products includes new jobs to revitalize Maine’s rural communities, and new products that slash fossil carbon pollution and replace toxic petrochemicals now used to make most plastics and synthetic materials.

The grant will be used to work with Biobased Maine, a business-led trade association formerly known as the Sustainable Bioplastics Council of Maine, the University of Maine, and other stakeholders to develop a road map to accelerate biobased manufacturing in the state.

Global demand is rapidly rising for everyday materials made from renewable biomass rather than oil, gas and coal. By leveraging Maine’s assets – abundant natural resources, idle industry, innovative research and hard workers – the state can seize significant market share in the growing biobased economy.

Later this year, an innovative Maine company will take a critical first step toward building a robust biobased manufacturing sector. Old Town Fuel and Fiber will break ground on one of the first demonstration plants in the world to turn wood chips into simple sugars, which are nature’s chemical building blocks.


Other members of the Biobased Maine trade association, and their locations, include Tom’s of Maine (Sanford), True Textiles (Guilford), Grow-Tech (South Portland), Cerealus (Waterville), and the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute in Orono.