Posts tagged "Environment"

Manufacturing: It Gets Better

Use of child labor was widespread in the US at the turn of the century. China and other major manufacturing countries are now facing growing pains with fair labor and environmental practices. Lewis Hine/Library of Congress via pingnews.


It has been about a week since the New York Times revealed its exposé on Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing practices. The story has continued to resonate with me and my work at Blue Marble because it continues a trend: the increasing transparency of manufacturing supply chains and practices. Consumers, journalists, and watchdogs now have a wide variety of resources available to find out how products are made, who made them, and under what conditions they are made. The Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep Cosmetics Database is an excellent example of this. The site allows consumers to find more information on their personal care products’ ingredients.

As we have seen with Nike, Gap, and Johnson and Johnson, companies listen and respond to concerns with manufacturing practices. They engage with NGOs, elected officials, and innovative companies like Blue Marble Biomaterials to remove toxic ingredients, improve labor practices, and generally make supply chains more ethical and sustainable. Admittedly, Apple is at the early stages of this process with some major obstacles to overcome, but the road to creating more sustainable supply chains and better labor practices is well paved. Which is a good thing, because as consumers become increasingly knowledgeable, supply chains and manufacturing practices will only continue to become less transparent and more safe for all.

Julia Ruedig, Dir. of Marketing


Seeding an Industrial Ecosystem

I am often asked why I try to find synergies that not only benefit Blue Marble but also benefit other companies, groups, universities, and local governments. It is founded in my firm belief that creating a healthy ecosystem will not only help Blue Marble thrive but will also help all distributed, biomass-based businesses survive and thrive.

One of the many great promises of clean tech is distributed production. I believe that it is the basis not only for the success of biomass-based companies, but moreover is essential to creating a stable ecosystem of industry.

What is distributed production?

When compared to coal and oil, biomass has a lower carbon density per pound. Therefore, higher volumes of biomass are needed to produce the same amount of product or energy that can be produced from fossil resources. Due to this phenomenon, transportation costs in a centralized production model are prohibitively cost ineffective for biomass-based businesses. The distributed production model establishes functional facilities everywhere that produce smaller amounts of product and eliminate the cost of hauling large volumes of biomass from far away.

From a social impact viewpoint, distributed production spreads skills and assets across the community, region, and country.  By raising the overall education base of the community, region, or country in each facility location, the possibility for innovation and collaboration among related industries increases in the big picture. This model also insulates industries against disruption from geopolitical or environmental risks because not all industrial eggs are in a single basket.

Operating smaller facilities in more rural areas gives each location more opportunity to collaborate and partner with others in the region to create a vibrant industrial ecosystem.

Blue Marble Biomaterials currently operates a facility in Missoula, Montana. Missoula is centrally located at the hub of five valleys on the I-90 corridor, a major transportation route between the East and West coasts. This hub is located near strong forestry resources in Western Montana and many agricultural resources in Eastern Washington and Eastern Montana. The town also has a university with a focus on business and the sciences. The community and the state uphold conservation in the state constitution, creating a community that understands the importance of sustainable development. The best part is that two strong biomass-based companies, in addition to Blue Marble, are present in Missoula as well, AlgEvolve and Rivertop Renewables.

In other words, this community has the nutrients to support an ecosystem of sustainable business and act as the foundation to spread distributed facilities around the region and the country. 

Companies and organizations can pool resources such as labor and research at the community level, creating a community brain trust where new business models, inventors, and entrepreneurs can piggyback on established companies to get even more new businesses started. Companies can also create feedstock synergies to reduce pollution, waste, and production costs.

Ecosystems are stronger than any single entity and as we look at economic recovery in the U.S. and the establishment of new industries, the ecosystem approach can stabilize the whole process and move us away from traditional boom-bust cycles. 

-James Stephens, President, CEO & CSO


The Pale Blue Dot

To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

-Carl Sagan

A beautiful perspective of our existence and Blue Marble’s namesake. Worth a watch for Earth Day, for everyday!


Starbucks killing off it’s bug-crushed dye

Starbucks killing off it’s bug-crushed dye

Almost everybody prefers natural ingredients over artificial ingredients, but as we learned with Starbucks’ red dye kerfuffle, natural ingredients can have issues with dietary restrictions. There are other flavorings and colorings that have issues with diets including natural cheese, dairy, meat, and other savory flavorings.

Solving this problem is part of our work at Blue Marble. Our chemists are finding ways to produce natural cheese, dairy, and meat flavorings that are COMPLETELY kosher and vegetarian.

This is the age of consumer empowerment and consumer knowledge. Curious about which components make up such natural flavorings? Check out the products page on our website under “Thioesters” tab. These are the components that make up the natural flavorings that help make your bag of potato chips more delicious.

Via 670am


Think you can get away from petroleum as soon as you turn off your car? Think again. If you still need proof that petroleum pervades nearly every facet of our daily lives, here it is. This flowchart from the Association of Petrochemical Producers in Europe outlines just exactly where that barrel of oil goes. Disposable diapers, gardening tools, insulation, and even your toothpaste (apparently) contain some element of petro-based production. Check out the chart to see how petroleum plays a part in nearly every manufactured consumer good.

Think you can get away from petroleum as soon as you turn off your car? Think again. If you still need proof that petroleum pervades nearly every facet of our daily lives, here it is. This flowchart from the Association of Petrochemical Producers in Europe outlines just exactly where that barrel of oil goes. Disposable diapers, gardening tools, insulation, and even your toothpaste (apparently) contain some element of petro-based production. Check out the chart to see how petroleum plays a part in nearly every manufactured consumer good.