Yellowstone and other national parks are on a "green" movement and in the process benefiting an Omaha company and Nebraska soybean producers.
The Clean Environment Co. of Omaha is among a growing number of U.S. businesses manufacturing bio-based products that, in most cases, use soybean oil. More than 50 national and state parks are buying bio-based cleaning products for offices, restrooms, visitor centers, even lodges and concession stands.
About 20% of the company's business is with national parks. "We are getting into relationships with some national hotel chains to provide them with our products," says Don Eby, company founder.
These bio-based cleaners are replacing petroleum and chemical derivatives that can be potentially harmful, especially in areas where food is produced, he adds.
Jim Evanoff, Yellowstone's environmental protection specialist, says the park was alarmed at the toxicity levels of the cleaning products we were using. "As the world's first National Park and the flagship of the National Park Service, Yellowstone strives to do the right thing for the environment."
Soybean producers and manufacturers are encouraging government agencies at all levels to use these products.
The bio-based movement provides an additional market for soybean producers, says Greg Peters, Nebraska Soybean Board member from DeWitt.
"Ninety-five percent of the soybean oil produced in this country goes for human consumption," he says. "Soy biodiesel and bio-based products are helping us find more uses for the remaining 5%."
Among the many bio-based products available are:
- Renewable lubricants
- Printer inks
- Carpet backing
- Body lotions
- Grill cleaners
- Glass cleaners
Even parts for combines and tractors, as well as truck and car seats, include bio-based products, says Norm Husa of Barneston, another Nebraska Soybean Board member.
In February, the Obama Administration gave bio-based products a boost by encouraging executive departments and agencies to take advantage of the federal BioPreferred Program, created in the 2002 Farm Bill. The program is intended to, among other provisions, provide new markets for farm commodities to help increase U.S. energy security.
USDA currently includes 64 categories and an estimated 9,000 products on the "preferred federal procurement" program. But fewer than half of the known bio-based products currently available are currently listed in the program.
Soybeans are important to Nebraska, points out Vic Bohuslavsky, soybean board executive director. "While most soybeans are used for livestock feed, the market continues to grow for soy-based bioproducts.
For more information, go to www.nebraskasoybeans.org.