The world is changing and our resource-based sectors are adapting to remain competitive and take advantage of new opportunities. While change can seem uncomfortable, this adaptation is good for all Nova Scotians.

Our history and heritage is rooted in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and many of our rural communities depend on their continued success. These sectors are transforming, and within this transformation there is great opportunity.

We can build a more prosperous and sustainable future for Nova Scotia by capitalizing on the growth of the global bioeconomy and fostering innovation across our traditional industries.

You might be wondering—what is the global bioeconomy? To put it simply, it’s the idea that the things we use each and every day—the ink in our pens, the gas in our cars—can, and should, be made from sustainable, renewable and recyclable products. It’s the notion that a consumer economy is more than just consumption—where we can use renewable products, we must.

Around the world, millions of products are made from materials derived from petroleum chemicals or other non-renewable resources. These materials use considerable energy and, in many cases, emit new carbon and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For example, the touchscreen on which you may be reading this is likely made from a conductive material such as copper or silver, a plastic matrix that holds the conductive material in place, and a protective glass—all made from non-renewable materials.

While there will likely always be a need for some of these non-renewable materials, we are seeing an increasing number of businesses using renewable resources to build the products we use every day. Bio-based paint formulations for our homes, biodegradable plastics, biofuels for transportation, wood fibre reinforcement in concretes for our sidewalks and buildings—these are just a few examples of the products that can be made from renewable forestry-, agriculture- ocean-, and municipal solid waste-based feedstocks.

Leading companies are doing this for two complementary reasons: it’s the right thing to do and it’s good for business. These business decisions are driven by consumer demand, regulation, concern for long-term business sustainability, the increasing cost competitiveness of renewable materials, and the international focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The global bioeconomy is expected to grow to as much as $5 trillion annually by 2030. The shift towards a bio-based economy has begun, and Nova Scotia shouldn’t be left behind.

In fact, rather than watching as others take advantage of this opportunity, Nova Scotia can be a leader—just as we are in recycling and energy efficiency. We have access to vast underutilized renewable resources from our forest, agriculture, and ocean sectors that can be managed sustainably. Rural communities across the province are looking to generate economic growth while promoting environmental sustainability—and we have momentum. Just last week, Sustane Technologies received funding from the federal government through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) in support of their commercial plant located at the Kaizer Meadow Landfill in the Municipality of Chester. Sustane’s innovative technology is a great example of the bioeconomy at work. Able to separate and sort landfill waste into renewable energy products including biomass pellets and synthetic diesel and in the process diverting over 90 per cent of the municipal solid waste currently being sent to landfill; Sustane Technologies a big win for both the environment and the economy.

The Nova Scotia Innovation Hub (NSIH) proudly works to support Sustane and other companies across the province that are committed to growing and strengthening Nova Scotia’s bioeconomy. We believe in fostering bioeconomy businesses and building a clean economy that is sustainable and responsible.

Recently, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada released the country’s first bioeconomy strategy, reflecting the view of more than 400 industry representatives from across the country—including the NSIH. At its core, the strategy recommends that we foster Canada’s bioeconomy by building and promoting strong companies and value chains through agile regulations and leveraging our national expertise in sustainable management of our renewable resource sectors.

This is an opportunity that cannot be ignored. We can be a leader in the bio-based economy. We say “no” to a lot of things in Nova Scotia, and often for the right reasons. But the bioeconomy is something we should say ‘yes’ to in order to secure a prosperous and sustainable future for our province.

Rod Badcock

Executive Director

Nova Scotia Innovation Hub