The Wider Benefits of Biodiesel

When the topic of biodiesel comes up, it’s easy to focus on the fuel itself. This clean fuel, after all, has earned a reputation for being perhaps the fastest and easiest way for fleets to reduce their emissions immediately. 

That’s an important topic to talk about given the climate crisis. However, the biodiesel industry’s reach extends far beyond transportation and into other businesses. Biodiesel’s wider benefits include job creation and a positive economic impact at the local, state and national levels.

 

Supporting other industries

With biodiesel being produced in the majority of states and sold throughout the U.S. and internationally, biodiesel production supports a wide variety of economic sectors, including manufacturing, transportation, foodservice industry and many facets of agriculture. As an example, an entire industry in used cooking oil collection has grown to collect, store and deliver this product to biodiesel plants for biodiesel production. This keeps used cooking oil from being dumped or disposed of in a way that is not sustainable.  
 
Let’s take a closer look at agriculture. Biodiesel is made from materials known as feedstocks, and these are overwhelmingly waste and byproducts from agriculture. Feedstocks are not products being diverted away from the manufacture of food. Besides being environmentally friendly, this process also gives the ag community a market for products that otherwise would have little or no value and may have ended up in a landfill or worse. 
 

For example, in 2020 REG used 14 types of feedstocks — totaling several billion pounds — to produce our fuels. Based on our typical feedstock mix, that would support the equivalent of: 

● 236,700 acres of soybeans
● 7 million acres of corn
● 33.3 million head of hogs
● 2.3 million head of cattle
 
It’s important to remember that we do this without diverting crops and livestock away from grocery store shelves. Biodiesel production operates by the credo of food-then-fuel process that supports farmers as well as provides food security. Additionally, cover crops can be a biodiesel feedstock and also provide environmental benefits, such as carbon sequestration and reduced soil erosion. 
 

Job creation

With its broad reach, the biodiesel industry supports roughly 60,000 American jobs. For every 100 million gallons of biodiesel produced, the industry creates about 3,200 local jobs.
 
As for industry jobs, there is quite the variety. Plant operators, chemists, lab technicians, truck drivers, financial analysts, logistics coordinators, safety professionals and engineers— this is just a sampling of the types of people who make this industry run. 
 

Economic impact

These jobs play an important role in communities throughout the U.S. Many biodiesel plants are in smaller, often rural, communities and can be key employers. 
 
The biodiesel industry generates billions of dollars in GDP, household income and tax revenues. By one accounting, biodiesel has added more than $12 billion to the U.S. economy over the past 25 years while contributing to cleaner air and a healthier environment. 
 
Many biodiesel companies and their employees play an active role in their communities. In 2020, REG donated $100,000 to a medical center in Ames, Iowa, contributed over $40,000 to COVID-19-related causes in the communities where we have locations, and nearly half of our employees used their paid volunteer time off, which we were especially proud of given that there were not as many volunteer opportunities due to the pandemic. 
 

Creating a better world

Biodiesel’s environmental and public health benefits are definitely what we’d highlight first. It’s also important to remember that biodiesel is not only a job creator that supports multiple industries but also has a strong economic impact on various levels. 
 
If you’d like to learn more about REG efforts to create a more sustainable world while also being socially responsible, check out our latest environmental, social and governance report