Bioeconomy and jobs

On this page:

The bioproduct-jobs pyramid shows both direct and indirect jobs supported through manufacturing bioproducts. This includes the entire supply chain, from tree harvest to processing to manufacturing of bioproducts. Job creation correlates with product value, as the more processing and manufacturing that’s required to create a bioproduct, the higher its market value will be. These job estimates are per 1000 oven-dried-tonnes (O.D.T.) of biomass feedstock.

A value pyramid indicating how many jobs are created per 1000 O.D.T. of biomass feedstock. Biofuels are at the bottom of the pyramid, followed by bioenergy, conventional lumber, biochemicals, engineered wood products, with biomaterials at the top of the pyramid.

Job estimates

Each specific bioproduct within a category will have slightly different job estimates. This approach provides job estimates for a specific bioproduct both on the low end and high end to provide ranges for each category. For example, per 1000 O.D.T of biomass feedstock, biofuels create approximately 0.4 jobs when looking at Ethanol, and approximately 1 job when looking at Biodiesel. Biofuels require large amounts of biomass feedstock and involves the least value-added processing, therefore this category produces less jobs per 1000 O.D.T. in comparison to other categories.

Advanced biomaterial jobs

Advanced biomaterials require very little biomass input when compared to other bioproduct categories but provide the most value-added steps to the manufacturing process. As a result, they are also the most valuable bioproducts. Per 1000 O.D.T biomass input, biomaterials create approximately 3 jobs when producing lower value products like reinforced thermoplastics.  The highest value products like flexible transparent conductive cellulosic nanocrystals could support the creation of 10 or more jobs per 1000 O.D.T.

Engineered Wood Product jobs

Engineered Wood Products require additional manufacturing steps, as they bind dimensional lumber, strands, particles and fibres of wood together to improve a product’s structural integrity. Some EWPs, such as cross laminated timber, involve long supply chains with multiple steps that add value to the process. Per 1000 O.D.T biomass feedstock, EWPs create approximately 4 jobs when producing oriented strand board, and approximately 9 jobs when producing cross laminated timber.

Biochemical jobs

Biochemicals are a unique product category that often use by-products from conventional pulping processes as feedstock. These can be high-value products that require anywhere between small and large amounts of biomass feedstock. Per 1000 O.D.T biomass feedstock, biochemicals create approximately 3-5 jobs when producing various sugars and sweeteners from hemicellulose and lignin, such as Xylitol and Vanillin.

Conventional lumber, pulp, and paper jobs

Conventional lumber, pulp, and paper products require relatively large amounts of biomass feedstock, but more opportunities for value-added processing. This category creates approximately 2 jobs per 1000 O.D.T for pulp products, and 5 jobs per 1000 O.D.T for high quality paper packaging products.

Bioenergy jobs

Bioenergy is very similar to biofuels in its requirements for biomass feedstock and opportunities for value-added processing. Bioenergy creates approximately 0.6 jobs per 1000 O.D.T of biomass feedstock to produce Renewable Natural Gas, and 1 job to produce wood pellets.

The bioproduct development pathway

There can be opportunities for bioproduct development in all categories, however the bioproduct development pathway is important to consider.  When considering the biomass characteristics, the saw-log component is best utilized in conventional lumber and engineered wood products.  Residuals from saw milling can then be used in the production of pulp and paper products, biochemicals and biomaterials as can non-saw log grade material and harvest residuals. Residuals from biochemical, biomaterial, pulp and paper manufacturing can be used in bioenergy and biofuel production. This type of pathway ensures an approach that maximizes the economic, social and environmental value from B.C.’s forest biomass.