Turning syrup into bioplastic; taxing wind
A couple of my recent Toronto Star articles may interest. The first is about the suitability of maple sap/syrup as a substrate for producing biopolymers that can be used to make biodegradable food packaging and biocompatible medical materials, such as bandages and implantable drug-delivery systems. A team of scientists at Canada’s National Research Council found that a certain type of bacteria that produces natural biopolymers from sugars reacts quite positively to maple sap taken right out of the tree. They argue that using maple sap is more economical than using sugars from corn or sugarcane because no pre-treatment of the sap is necessary, thus eliminating substantial costs. You also don’t need to fertilize and irrigate the trees. The scientists figure that production of maple sap in Canada could be expanded to supply this new market, and they point to an existing — and quite large — maple syrup surplus that could be put to good use.
The second article, which appeared today, details how a Guelph, Ontario, man who put up a wind turbine on his private farm got dinged with a higher property tax assessment that erases much of his energy savings as a result of the turbine. The municipal-owned agency responsible for the assessments has put a hold on his tax increase until it can get clarification from the province’s Ministry of Finance. The fear is that increased property values, and hence an increase in taxes, will ruin the business case for a slew of proposed renewable-energy projects across the province — everything from wind and solar farms to biodigester facilities that generate electricity from cow manure. Let’s hope the ministry sorts things out without harming the potential growth of renewable energy in the province.