Recent announcements prove Sarnia’s bio cluster is the real deal

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In Canada, Sarnia’s biobased industries have progressed from talk to steel-in-the-ground. According Matthew Slotwinski, business development consultant at the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, activity “ramped up considerably” after biobased succinic acid producer BioAmber completed construction of its $141-million plant in 2015. “[2017] was the biggest year for large-scale announcements,” he tells the Sarnia Journal.

California’s Origin Materials, which manufactures plastic from organic waste, is set to build a plant in the region in 2018.  Xylitol producer S2G is building a $20-million facility with construction set to start later this year, while Advanced Chemical Technologies—whose technology produces methanol from industrial carbon monoxide emissions and natural gas—also has plans to build a $150-million plant in Sarnia by 2020. Two Sarnia industrial sites—TransAlta’s Bluewater Energy Park and Arlanxeo Bio-Industrial Park—are also drawing interest.

“This bio-hybrid cluster is generating attention for Sarnia-Lambton worldwide,” Slotwinski says. “Not only do we have existing infrastructure, we have an existing labor force with petrochemical skills that are transferable to the bio-industry. “We have Lambton College, which is number one for applied research in Ontario with relevant programs for the bio-sector, and we have access to raw materials and feedstock.”