One of the greatest determinants of health is whether you have a good job. Economic conditions contribute to health disparities with people living in poverty dying sooner and getting sick more often than those with greater economic resources.
Maine has long experienced chronic rural poverty and a disproportionately heavy and steady loss of manufacturing and military jobs. Almost all the shoe factories, tanneries and textile mills that served thriving small towns are gone. The state’s largest industry, pulp and paper, continues to shed high wage union jobs at an alarming rate. The last of 5,000 more good jobs leaves with the Brunswick Naval Air Station shutdown.
The prospect of creating new green jobs offers economic hope and the promise of sustainable solutions for health and the environment. Maine’s natural strengths in the new green economy revolve most uniquely around three major investment opportunities – clean energy, ecotourism and the manufacture of bio-based products.
The Environmental Health Strategy Center is working on development of bio-based plastics made from Maine’s abundant natural resources, to have the greatest impact on creating good, green jobs in Maine. Production of the biopolymer PLA will create an estimated 867 permanent jobs, including 151 new jobs in manufacturing, according to an economic impact analysis prepared by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.
The development of bioproducts will uniquely benefit Maine’s troubled rural economy, since production facilities will be located near renewable feedstock supplies. Bioplastics are a timely, high-impact investment in Maine’s green job future.