Looking Back at the Ontario BioAuto Council
Circa 2011 - 2012


Ecology Topics 101
Dr. Jane Good
This website is part of the collection of reading materials supplemental to this course and the accompanying lectures by Dr. Jane Good. The site has been restored from the original, BioAutoCouncil.com, and is archived for student access.
Credits: TNG/Earthling's Bob Sakayama and Rev Sale handled development expertise and technical support. OneInAmelia handled research and historic references. DirtsGood and FillyMeana were the edit team. All other work was done at TNG/E.



For a number of years this was the website for the Ontario BioAuto Council. The Ontario BioAuto Council, headquartered in Guelph, Canada, was an industry-led, not-for-profit organization established in 2007 to link chemicals, plastics, manufacturing, auto parts and automotive assemblers with agriculture and forestry.
The new owners of the domain wanted to keep an online presence for the Ontario BioAuto Council visible on the web as a historical record.

Content is from the site's 2011 - 2012 archived pages, as well as from other outside sources providing a glimpse of the type of content found on the website.


Ontario BioAuto Council closes its doors.

2014 Chemical Institute of Canada
The Ontario BioAuto Council (OBAC), which enjoyed a close working relationship with the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), has voted to close operations as of this month.

Although the Council developed an international reputation for leadership and achieved many successes, the changing economics resulting from the North American shale gas revolution has addressed many of the industry concerns represented by the council.

Much of OBAC's interest in bio-based materials was driven by concerns about peak oil, including potential future resin shortages and volatile prices. In 2007 when the council was formed, advances in industrial biotechnology seemed to offer a new and potentially cheaper route to chemical and plastics production. Technically speaking, almost everything you can make out of a barrel of oil you can make out of a bushel of corn and soybeans or even wood. Since agricultural grain, oil seed and wood fibre prices remained stable starting in the mid-1990s, it was thought that a shift to increased use of biomaterials could provide a hedge against rising oil and resin costs.

OBAC's priority was the rapid commercialization of new products incorporating bio-based materials. An investment fund was established to help cost-share the risk of developing new products. The council was very successful in commercializing soy-based foam products in the automotive, furniture and bedding markets. It introduced new lightweight composites in the automotive and consumer products sectors using forest fibres and replaced plastic additives with bio-based, non-toxic alternatives.

OBAC also partnered with the forestry sector to fund conferences and financially supported the creation of other networks to help accelerate the development of high performance forest materials like low-cost carbon fibre made from lignin (which can be used in light-weight vehicle structural parts) and crystalline nano cellulose (which may have applications in the oil and gas sectors). OBAC also partnered with the CIC and GreenCentre Canada to help fund and organize the successful 2010 IUPAC Green Chemistry Conference.

The shale gas revolution in North America has resulted in low natural gas prices and a surge in the production of low-cost natural gas liquids, such as ethane, propane, butane and pentane. Chemical costs related to both energy processing and materials have been driven down. For the first time in 20 years, North America has a global competitive advantage and more than $80 billion dollars has been targeted for the expansion and construction of new chemical production facilities. Many of these facilities are going to result in the supply of polyethylene, polypropylene and poly(vinyl chloride), which account for about 75 per cent of the plastics used in passenger vehicles.

While the switch from oil-based naphtha to shale gas liquids like ethane and propane should drive down the cost of chemicals and plastics, it may also result in shortages of some chemicals, especially butadiene, a C4 co-product from naphtha cracking. Butadiene is a chemical feedstock used to make rubber, nylon and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics--materials used in the automotive sector for manufacturing tires, under-the-hood applications and door panels.

Fortunately, C4 production, like butadiene and succinic acid, seem to be ideal targets for the use of biotechnology. OBAC worked closely with the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance and the province of Ontario to help support BioAmber's successful investment in a C4 succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ont.

The council also partnered with the forestry sector and other networks like the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE) to help fund new technologies to provide business opportunities for pulp and paper mills in the form of cheap sugars for bio-based C4 chemical production and new cellulose fibre composite materials for replacement of ABS plastics.

When OBAC looked to the future, we realized we needed to emphasize a more nuanced 'hybrid' position integrating traditional hydrocarbon chemical production with new advances in biotechnology focused on the production of C4 chemicals like butadiene and succinic acid. This requires a new and more flexible organization built around a 'hybrid chemistry' mandate.

Craig Crawford is the President & CEO of the Ontario BioAuto Council in Guelph, Ont.


The Ontario BioAuto Council has a mission to position the province first in the race to meet the growing demand for affordable, sustainable bio-based products. The council brings together Ontario’s distinct advantages in the growing bio-based economy, and helps ensure participants have every opportunity to succeed.

Ontario has clear advantages for bio-based initiatives. It houses the largest North American auto parts and assembly industries, some of which are already using and producing parts from plant-derived feedstocks. Ontario is also a continental stronghold for research and production in agriculture and forestry, providing new plant varieties and expertise in plant oils, starches, and fibres. And the provincial chemical and plastics sectors are thriving, worth an estimated $20-billion each. Industry leaders, investors and innovators from these areas all connect through the Ontario BioAuto Council.

The council’s focus is biomaterials, such as flexible bio-based foams for car seats and woodfibre composites for automotive and construction applications. With a $5-million investment fund from the Government of Ontario, the council is providing support for biomaterials ventures and commercialization. With sustainability as its cornerstone, the Ontario BioAuto Council connects the ends of the value chain, and meets economic and environmental challenges head-on. Ontario has the natural resources needed for a strong bio-based economy, and the industrial capacity to advance new initiatives. The Ontario BioAuto Council is the conduit for those strengths.

Interested in receiving direct communications on the activities of the Council and its partners?

Biography – Craig Crawford, President and CEO, Ontario BioAuto Council

Craig has served on numerous government and industry committees and non-profit boards that have advocated support for biobased industries in both Canada and the United States.  He has acted as a consultant to the federal and Ontario governments on the bioeconomy and wrote a framework for developing biobased industries in Canada.  He has been actively involved in identifying research and business opportunities in the new bioeconomy for more than a decade.

Craig is currently the President and CEO of the Ontario BioAuto Council.  The Council’s vision is to make Ontario a global leader in the manufacture of automobile parts, construction materials and packaging from biological feedstocks.  Its mission is to unite Ontario’s largest economic sectors (i.e. agriculture, forestry, oil, chemical, manufacturing and automotive), research community and government around viable strategies aimed at building a province-wide bioeconomy.



Agriculture | Forestry | Chemicals & Plastics |  Auto Parts | OEM

INDUSTRIES Agriculture

The auto industry represents an exciting opportunity to boost value for Ontario's agricultural products. The farming community produces many of the raw materials and renewable feedstocks required in bioproducts, such as plant-based oils, starches and fibres.

Ontario is Canada's largest agriculture producing province, distinguished by its innovation and diversity. Members of the Ontario Soybean Growers, comprising one of the farming industry's most progressive sectors, have shown support for the Ontario BioAuto Council through active involvement in the council's activities. These farmers appreciate the potential for agricultural markets to provide alternatives to petroleum-based products.

Introducing enhanced varieties of corn and soy will add value to farming operations and increase profits for farmers. New opportunities are opening up for crop diversification, including fibre crops such as hemp and wheat straw. Research is underway to determine how these crops, as well as traditional corn and soy crops, can be used in the auto sector. Many bioplastics, foams and composites have already shown superior properties in weight, texture and structural traits.

Auto parts made from farm commodities have been a proven concept since transportation pioneer Henry Ford introduced the soy car in the 1930s. Technology and market demand have improved over the years, but the concept remains the same: performance, affordability and sustainability. Ontarios agricultural sector is poised to take the next step, and feed the growing bioproducts industry.



Ontario has traditionally enjoyed profitable forestry and fibre industries, with annual forest products valued at more than $11 billion. But as low-cost foreign fibre products threaten the Canadian pulp and paper industry, forestry stakeholders are turning to new technologies for value creation. Bioproducts such as wood-plastic composites (WPCs) represent exciting solutions. Recently released industry stats show an increased demand for these bio-based alternatives. Global markets grew from US$ 750 million in 2002 to US$ 2.1 billion by 2004 and industry analysts are predicting a demand of US$ 3.5 billion by 2009. Primary markets are for decking and railing but fencing applications are starting to be commercialized.

In Ontario, GreenCore Composites Inc. manufactures Green Inside™ pellets from wood and agricultural fibres. Injection molding processes transform the pellets into strong structural components for automobiles, chairs, electrical units and many other consumer products. Tembec uses by-products from its forestry operations in Canada and around the world to produce specialty resins and other industrial chemicals. Bio-based fibreglass could also see applications in Ontario, as well as flax-rich Western Canada. These North American biofibre products will experience high demand because they weigh and cost less than their glass counterparts.

The Ontario BioAuto Council is committed to supporting these and other markets in the auto parts, packaging and construction sectors. The bottom line is increased value for forestry products and innovative solutions to challenges in the industry.


INDUSTRIES Chemicals & Plastics

The chemicals and plastics sectors, with combined exports of $33.8 billion in 2005, stand to become champions of Ontario's new bioproduct economy. As bioproducts growth continues, both sectors will benefit through intertwined value chains and innovative solutions to pressing environmental and feedstock problems. Solvents, lubricants, paints, fillers and plastics could all become more biobased with ingredients from renewable feedstock sectors.

The Ontario BioAuto Council is helping this happen through partnerships with other networks, such as the Ontario Hybrid Council. It's one of the Council's close partners, designed to help chemical companies link to forestry and agriculture. The end goal is to produce chemical intermediates, plastics and fibre composites for applications such as automotive parts and green chemicals.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is on a parallel course. In its 2006 technology roadmap, the association cites advanced engineering technologies that will see renewable feedstocks combined with traditional plastics for more sustainable products. This roadmap also includes more ideas for bioplastics reuse and recycling, to help prepare for renewability in future life-cycle planning.

Indeed, renewable feedstocks will come in many forms. A clear leader is Mirel Natural Plastics, a joint venture between bioscience-leader Metabolix and agri-food giant Archer Daniels Midland, which is set to produce 110 million pounds of bioplastic yearly from specialized microbes and corn sugar. Another example is soy oil, which has long been chemically refined to create a quality-enhancing ink base. The Ontario BioAuto Council will support the commercialization of such bioproduct ventures in the chemicals and plastics sectors.



Ontario's auto parts industry comprises more than 400 manufacturers and 135,000 workers. It shipped $31 billion of product in 2005. Because of manufacturing efficiencies and research and development incentives, costs are lower in Ontario than comparable operations in the United States.

The Ontario BioAuto Council sees Ontario's potential to lead the global bio-based auto parts industry, as well. Initiatives are well underway in Ontario to optimize the use of renewable materials in everything from mirror casings and bumpers, to door panels, seat foams and upholstery.

Major Ontario players have already hit the market with a variety of automotive products derived from renewable resources. The Woodbridge Group and Cargill Inc. have partnered to produce plant-based polyurethane parts used in interior applications. BioFoam™ manufactured by Woodbridge, is currently made with up to 25% bio-based materials. BioFoam™ feels and performs the same as conventional polyurethane foams, but is produced using a Cargill polyol called BiOH™ . Soybeans are crushed and refined to form the BiOH™ polyol, which is combined with other agents to mold foam for seats, arm-rests and overhead systems.

More Ontario bio-based auto parts are slotted for first-quarter production in 2008 with new bioproduct lines from DuPont. Fabrics, carpets and automotive interiors are all derivatives of DuPont's Sorona Polymer, which provides superior durability and stain resistance. Another DuPont bioproduct named Cerenol is poised to give automotive coatings greater chip resistance and flexibility.

Manufacturers everywhere realize the market advantages of delivering a smaller ecological footprint to consumers, while reducing the dependence on crude oil. The Ontario BioAuto Council is well-positioned to partner with auto parts manufacturers in Canada, Japan, Europe and the United States to deliver the products the industry needs.



Bio-based materials open new opportunities for auto assemblers, as they prepare for higher manufacturing costs and tougher environmental regulations. An eco-conscience is building in the auto industry, reflecting consumer demands. For example, in the 2007 DuPont Automotive/SPE Survey, auto designers and engineers said lower emissions and clean air regulations were their top environmental challenges. Additionally, bio-based/alternative fuels and renewably sourced materials were among the most important environmental/sustainability challenges for engineer's and designer's development work, according to the 2007 survey findings. The interest in renewably sourced materials and alternative fuels jumped 60 percent compared to results in 2006.

Making lighter, cleaner cars requires a switch from heavy metal parts to plastics. Bioplastics and composites offer renewable alternatives that often use less energy to produce, and demonstrate superior performance without adding extra weight. The Ontario BioAuto Council believes plastics that are increasingly bio-based can help meet industry sustainability and emissions targets.

Ontario's biggest auto assemblers are on board with using renewable feedstocks. Chrysler, GM and Ford have been actively involved with the Ontario BioAuto Council as well as pursuing their own bio-based materials.

Toyota has used bioplastics in various models, such as the Lexus ES300, which contains a plastic rear storage tray reinforced with kenaf plant fibres. Mazda is another auto company with bioproducts on its agenda. A Mazda exhibit in Japan recently featured interior parts made from high-strength, heat-resistant bioplastic, which contains 88 percent corn-based polylactic acid. Ford has introduced plant-based polyurethane foam in the 2008 Escape and shows ongoing commitment to renewable content.

As markets expand for biobased products, the Ontario BioAuto Council will link research and development in the auto industry with leaders in the agriculture and forestry fields to secure the long-term competitive edge of 




Welcome to the Ontario BioAuto Council’s Media Centre

We look forward to working with editors and members of the media on promotions in press, radio and online to provide your audience with updates on the activities of the Council.


Latest News

August 29, 2011 - Sarnia-Lambton Lands BioAmber's BioSuccinic Acid Plant As Region's Hybrid Chemistry Cluster Continues to Grow




GUELPH, ON – July 18, 2011 – GreenCore Composites Inc. announced the successful completion of its NCellTM High Performance Nature Fibre Composites project, co-funded by the Ontario BioAuto Council. With the support of a $755,000 grant from the Council, GreenCore has developed renewable natural fibre reinforced composite materials using a unique manufacturing technology process that improves productivity and capacity, all at a lower cost to manufacturers, and ultimately end-consumers.

GreenCore’s ability to replace up to 40% of synthetic polymer content with wood fibres provides weight savings of up to 20% compared to traditional glass fibre materials, lowers CO2 emissions and improves recyclability. This start-up company has already commercialized its first product and hired new staff. With recent successful financing, as well as a distribution agreement with Optima Colour, GreenCore is now focusing on rapid growth in the automotive, sports/recreation and food service industries.

"From the very beginning, the Ontario BioAuto Council believed in GreenCore’s product and value proposition. It is no surprise to us that there is such interest in NCellTM materials and the completion of this innovative project is just one of many successes ahead for GreenCore,” said Craig Crawford, President and CEO of the Council

Geoff Clarke, President and CEO for GreenCore, stated “the generous funding from the BioAuto Council allowed us to move much more quickly from a research stage into the marketplace. Our membership with the Council has opened many doors and we appreciate their continued support.”

The Ontario BioAuto Council is an industry-led, not-for-profit organization that was established in 2007 with $6 million from the Province of Ontario. The Council supports and connects chemicals, plastics, manufacturing and auto-parts companies with agriculture and forestry, in order to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies and build global market demand for affordable, sustainable biobased materials.

GreenCore Composites is a cleantech manufacturer of natural fibre reinforced thermoplastic materials for companies seeking more environmentally friendly and advanced “green” materials to mold or extrude products. NCellTM materials, a combination of microfibers and thermoplastic polymers, are uniquely strong and meet the need for lightweight products that use less energy to mold, reduce tooling wear and provide cost savings. These advance materials are manufactured in Mississauga, Ontario


Vicki Leith, Director Operations & Program Management vleith@bioautocouncil.com 519-827-1118

Geoff Clarke, President & CEO Ontario BioAuto Council GreenCore Composites Inc. gclarke@greencorenfc.com 1-855-255-5422



June 30, 2011 - Great Lakes Summit White Paper

THE VITAL COMMONS An Agenda for the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region Joshua Hjartarson Matthew Mendelsohn Allison Bramwell Kelly Hinton

About the Mowat Centre The Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation is an independent, non-partisan public policy research centre located at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. The Mowat Centre undertakes collaborative applied policy research and engages in public dialogue on Canada’s most important national issues, and proposes innovative, researchdriven public policy recommendations, informed by Ontario’s reality. We believe a prosperous, equitable and dynamic Canada requires strong provinces, including a strong Ontario, and strong cities.


Regions will be just as important as nation-states in ensuring the well-being of communities in the coming decades. The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region (GLSLR)—made up of the eight states and two provinces (Quebec and Ontario) that surround these great waters—has everything necessary to succeed in this new world.

Regions are becoming more important because capital and talent tend to cluster geographically so that employers have easy access to potential partners and employees. Clusters emerge in regions that possess natural, cultural, and place-defining attributes that make them attractive places to live and work. They also emerge near centres of public and private research and education.

The conventional narrative about the region has been of a “rust belt” and the decline of heavy industry. Many communities in the region have not fared well during the past three decades as globalized patterns of production and trade fundamentally restructured whole industries, including autos, steel, chemicals, machine tools, electronics, paper, and durable goods manufacturing.

However, this storyline ignores the fact that the production and trade models of the 20th century generated the wealth and infrastructure on which a new economy is being built. The capital, talent, and innovation produced in the 20th century has been deployed in the past two decades and has produced clusters of new industries in the financial services, health services, food processing, energy, aerospace, ICT, transportation, and pharmaceutical sectors, among many others.

The conventional narrative also misses the educational facilities, research institutions, skilled human capital, and global knowledge and connections found in the region. The wealth and infrastructure built over the 20th century created the foundations for new emerging sectors.

These realities can, if leveraged, turn the conventional narrative on its head. But to do so requires that we recognize our common regional history and interdependence, and think more consistently, and act much more purposefully, like a cross-border region with common interests. One obstacle to achieving this vision is an inability to imagine our shared future. Other cross-border regions are beginning to act and think collectively, transcending national boundaries to address shared problems, manage shared resources, and take advantage of new economic opportunities

A second obstacle is the thickening of the border, which has caused hardship for communities and businesses on both sides. Federal governments are taking action. The Beyond the Border Working Group and the Regulatory Cooperation Council are working on harmonization and easing border traffic without undermining security or sovereignty.

At the same time, other actors—provincial, state, and municipal governments, the private sector, civic organizations, and research institutions—are not sitting back waiting for the outcomes of these federal processes. There are things that all of us can do to strengthen the cross-border region. This white paper is intended to facilitate the discussion about what we can do to strengthen the region.

This paper outlines the shared challenges and opportunities facing the cross-border region. It also outlines a series of initiatives for government, business, and civil society that have been proposed to deepen cross-border collaboration. A final paper will be published in fall 2011.

Communities across the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region share common challenges. They are also rich with the assets needed to succeed in the global economy. Overcoming these challenges and leveraging those assets won’t be easy. This paper is built around a basic premise—we can achieve more by working together than alone.  



June 23, 2011 - Optima Colour and GreenCore Composites sign agreement for distribution of NCell™ Natural Fiber reinforced Thermoplastics
Toronto, ON, June 23, 2011

Toronto, ON, June 23, 2011 – Optima Colour and GreenCore Composites Inc. are pleased to announce a distribution agreement by which Optima Colour will be the official distributor of GreenCore’s NCell™ Natural Fiber Composites for consumer and industrial markets in Ontario, Quebec and Eastern Canada.

• GreenCore NCell™ natural fiber thermoplastics are a family of high-performance Lignocellulosic - thermoplastic compounds for injection molding and extrusion.

• NCell™ compounds are supplied in standard pellet form, and may be used as drop-in replacement on existing tooling and molding equipment.

• NCell™ 40 compounds offer up to a 100% increase in mechanical properties such as tensile strength, when compared to other commercially available Natural Fiber Composites such as those manufactured from hemp, flax, and wood flour.

• In many applications, NCell™ 40-PP is capable of replacing glass-reinforced polymers.

Tyler Kilgannon, VP Marketing and Development for Optima Colour explains, “GreenCore NCell™ products allow Optima to continue to bring innovative technologies to injection molders and profile extruders while continuing our commitment to developing green plastics solutions.”

“This is an important step to make a real penetration in the North American market as Optima Colour has extensive customer exposure, allowing for our NCell™ compounds to be a utilized as a drop in replacement for current fiber reinforced and virgin polymers” adds Sam Hasan, VP Marketing and Business Development for GreenCore.

GreenCore Composites is a Cleantech manufacturer of natural fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials for companies seeking more environmentally friendly and advanced “green” materials to mold or extrude products ranging from automotive parts to rigid containers, sports equipment and furniture. NCellTM materials, a combination of microfibers and thermoplastic polymers, are uniquely strong and meet the need for lightweight products that use less energy to mold, reduce tooling wear and provide cost savings when compared to glass reinforced polymers. These advance materials are manufactured in Mississauga, ON.

Optima Colour is a Cambridge Ontario Canada based producer of custom colour concentrates, specialty additive master batches and compounded resin systems. Optima Colour also produces an extensive range of environmentally conscious masterbatches and compounds under its GreenPlanet product range for film, sheet, molding and extrusion applications. Optima Colour is recognized for its unmatchable customer attention, reliable service and unique product offering.

Press Contact: Sam Hasan, VP Marketing & Business Development (ahasan@greencoreNFC.com)

GreenCore Composites Inc.
642 King Street West, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 1M7
T: 1-855-255-5422 F: 416-504-3033


June 01, 2011 - ZeaChem Executes Joint Development Agreement with Procter & Gamble
Agreement Will Accelerate Commercialization of Sustainable Bio-based Chemicals

Lakewood, Colo. – June 1, 2011 – ZeaChem Inc., a developer of biorefineries for the conversion of renewable feedstocks into sustainable fuels and chemicals, today announced a binding multi-year joint development agreement with Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). The agreement will accelerate development of ZeaChem’s product platform beyond C2 through the commercialization of “drop-in” bio-based chemicals and other products.

“As part of its long-term environmental sustainability vision, P&G is committed to using 100% sustainably sourced renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging,” said Len Sauers, P&G’s vice president for global sustainability. “Novel innovations from our suppliers, such as ZeaChem’s unique process to create bio-based chemicals, are critical to us achieving this vision.”

“We’re very pleased to partner with Procter & Gamble, a global leader in consumer products and sustainable operations,” said Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem. “This definitive agreement will accelerate the time to market for our new product platform and the commercial production of economical and sustainable biofuels and bio-based chemicals using ZeaChem’s highly efficient technology.”

ZeaChem’s process uses renewable feedstocks such as poplar trees and agricultural residues to produce the highest yield and lowest carbon emissions of any known biorefining technology. The company has begun fermentation work on this new product platform using the same processes and equipment that the company used to prove and scale up its C2 product platform. The new platform also enables ZeaChem to ultimately deploy its technology for the production of other bio-based chemicals as well as drop-in fuels. The two companies will utilize ZeaChem’s existing infrastructure at its lab in Menlo Park, Calif., pilot facility at Hazen Research in Golden, Colo., and demonstration-scale biorefinery in Boardman, Ore. Together, P&G and ZeaChem will research, develop and demonstrate, scale-up, and commercialize this new product platform.

# # #

About ZeaChem Inc.
ZeaChem Inc. has developed a cellulose-based biorefinery platform capable of producing advanced fuels and intermediate chemicals. ZeaChem's indirect approach leapfrogs the yield and carbon dioxide (CO2) problems associated with traditional and cellulosic based biorefinery processes. In addition, ZeaChem has a significant capital cost advantage compared to other cellulosic technologies. By efficiently extracting the most energy possible from biomass feedstocks, ZeaChem significantly increases output while reducing both production costs and environmental impacts. Incorporated in 2002, ZeaChem is headquartered in Lakewood, Colo. and operates a research and development laboratory facility in Menlo Park, Calif.


May 26, 2011 - Leather made from recycled bottles
used with car seats, door covers and dashboards. Vehreo consists among other things made from recycled PET bottles. Biomaterials, such as replacing vegetable oils, which are made from soy and castor beans, traditional phthalate plasticizers.

PET | Plastic Recycling | PVC | Leather

Vehreo meets the stringent requirements of OEMs such as Toyota. This has been successfully tested under production conditions, "Dr. Horst Noglik, Senior Scientist, Advanced Technology said at Canadian General-Tower Ltd.. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, in the Canadian province of Ontario produces the new synthetic leather. "To date we have for testing approximately 5,000 m run through the production lines. In mass production, to start in 2013, is our long-term goal about five million meters per year. then we can process about 6.5 million recycled bottles a year. "At the end of the automotive life cycle which covers land-Vehreo then not at the dump, but can be without quality loss and re-use process. Long corporate tradition is

Long corporate tradition is linked to the green revolution

We just reinvent ourselves again," said Patrick Diebel, vice president of Advanced Technology at Canadian General-Tower (CGT) and head of the development team of Vehreo. And not for the first time: Canadian General Tower (CGT), which in the sixties of the 19th Century was founded, initially put forth rubber flooring for wagon wheels. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the company then went on to the production of coated materials, for example, raincoats and shower curtains. Today the company is the world's largest manufacturer of liners for swimming pools.

For more than 80 years, CGT is also active as a supplier to the automotive industry. About 85% of all passenger cars and light trucks produced in North America use the materials of the company in the vehicle seats, head-and armrests, as well as in the dashboard and door panels. Says "Many customers see no difference between our product and genuine leather," Diebel. "The seat covers are just as high quality and comfortable." Increasing environmental awareness and the long-term decline in global oil inventories were the main reasons for the Canadian company, new manufacturing processes for synthetic materials such as artificial leather to be developed. The original oil-based production process is purely biological in Vehreo now. Three years of research and numerous attempts were needed before the production process was perfected. The Ontario Bioauto Council supported the project with a research grant of more than 545 000 € (750,000 Canadian dollars). "The program aims to develop research results into marketable products quickly," says Diebel.

Sustainable mix determines the production process

The Vehreo platform consists of five layers: the upper surface of the paint, a polyurethane matrix with soy or corn protein wastes from food production. The underlying layer is a PVC-grained skin, consisting of PVC polymer, plasticizers plant derived from the oil of soy and castor beans, and additives. In the middle is PVC foam, again with vegetable plasticizers. This is followed by a fourth layer of adhesive - PVC / VA copolymers and plasticizer plant. The last layer is a textile fabric made of 55% recycled PET bottles and litter.

Customers have two versions of artificial leather are available, differing in their overall share of organic and recycled materials - either 32% or 52%. "Of course we try to share the organic and recycled materials to maximize. But this is also a cost issue at the moment. Currently Vehreo is still slightly more expensive than regular PVC seat covers, but it is significantly below the price of polyurethane or leather, "explains Dr. Noglik.

As much as Vehreo different from conventional artificial leather - almost everything in the production process remains the same. "It was important to us that we can use our machinery and equipment," said the native of Hamburg Noglik, who has lived for more than 20 years in Canada. First, the Vehreo skin is produced by four Kalandarwalzen. During the subsequent intaglio printing process, several coatings and surface modifications of paint possible. Then the PVC plastisol to foam and adhesives are manufactured by order stations. Finally Vehreo is imprinted with the custom texture.

Environmentally friendly product will be awarded

The environmental commitment of the company attracted some attention: In November 2010, received the Innovation Award of the CGT Network of Automotive Excellence (NoAE) for the breakthrough with Vehreo. The NoAE is an enterprise-wide network of experts for the automotive and supplier industry. The initiative aims to promote cooperation between businesses and thus increase their competitiveness. One month before receiving the award was Diebel was a CGT-team a guest at the 2010 International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, the host country Canada. As a result of the brief visit was Diebels order book packed full of CGT is to provide conventional artificial leather at VW plants in Mexico, India and China. The total volume of new orders amounted to nearly 24 million euros (32.5 million Canadian dollars).

German OEMs are the very top of Canada's Wishlist

The existence of co-operation with VW owes, according to Diebel CGT and the Ontario government, in particular, Sandra Pupatello, Minister for Economic Development and Trade. "It was a great ambassador for Canada and Ontario," says Diebel

The collaboration with Volkswagen underscores the desire of Canadian suppliers to want to cooperate more closely in future with German OEMs. Two German OEMs are particularly in focus, said Steve Rodgers, president of the Association of Canadian suppliers APMA (Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association): "Volkswagen is strongly committed to the growth in North America. BMW has also committed himself and procured components and systems in North America to support both North American and European works. This is for the Canadian supplier of course of great interest. "

Good economic prospects through restructuring and new product

Patrick Diebel looks ahead to the future. He assumes that CGT will achieve by 2013 annual sales of around € 220 million (300 million Canadian dollars). This corresponds to the revenue level of CGT, before the recession has swept across the North American auto sector. "But with the changes we had to make, we are now more profitable than before," says Diebel.

CGT currently has around 500 employees, almost all of whom work at the company headquarters and main factory in Cambridge, about 80 km west of Toronto. In Mexico City, and Detroit, the company employs sales personnel in China will soon open a second production CGT system for conventional artificial leather. And if that interest continues to Vehreo from the auto manufacturer, it could also arrive Diebels future forecasts.

At a glance
The Ontario Council Bioauto

The Ontario Bioauto Council, based in Guelph, Ontario, is an industry-led nonprofit organization. Founded in 2007, it linked the chemical, plastics and automotive industries, agriculture and forestry as well as universities and research institutions. The aim is that research results into marketable to develop products based on biomaterials, such as auto parts, and thus to strengthen the global competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in Ontario. For the promotion of research projects, the provincial government, the Council Ontarion Bioauto a fund with a volume of around 4.3 million euros (six million Canadian dollars) made available.

At a glance
The Canadian province of Ontario

The province of Ontario is the economic engine of Canada, the world's second largest state. Approximately 37% of Canada's gross domestic product is generated in the most populous Canadian province (12.9 million of the 33.3 million residents of Canada). Nearly half of all Canadian exports now come from the provinces, Ontario is responsible for 60% of all imports, which belongs to the North American Free Trade NAFTA. Germany is on the sixth most important bilateral trading partner, Ontario.

The "Ministry of Economic Development and Trade," with Sandra Pupatello Minister at the head of Ontario strengthens the business location for foreign investors through strategic investment programs.

Since March 2008, innovative and environmentally friendly operating companies apply for funds from all sectors of the approximately 730 million euros (1.15 billion Canadian dollars) heavy promotion program "Next Generation of Jobs Fund" with the provincial government of Ontario. The adopted in May 2009 "Green Energy Act" will strengthen the leadership role of the province in the area of renewable energies.

Author: Martin Gossner, freelance journalist, Stuttgart
Issue: May 05/2011



A number of funds and sources of funding exist to potentially support the commercialization of biomaterials and market development.  Generally, eligibility criteria are different for each fund.  For example, funding eligibility could depend on a number of various factors:

  • Nature and scale of the project
  • Benefits/expected results of the project
  • Innovation
  • Sector or industry focus
  • Co-financing or other investor support

This site does not constitute an exhaustive list of the funding availabile.  Our aim is to help with the first step of identifying possible sources for project funding and to provide some general information.


  • Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP)
  • ecoAgriculture Biofuels Capital Initiative
  • ecoENERGY for Biofuels Program
  • National Bioproducts Program
  • NextGen Biofuels Fund
  • Prosperity Initiative
  • SD Tech Fund


  • Early Researcher Awards Program
  • Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program
  • Green Focus on Innovation and Technology (GreenFIT)
  • Green Schools Pilot Initiative
  • Innovation Demonstration Fund
  • International Strategic Opportunities Program
  • Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund
  • Ontario Research Fund
  • Strategic Jobs and Investment Fund