Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc., is publicly-traded on the OTC Markets QB: BNET
Bion is a public company (OTC QB: BNET) whose mission is to provide sustainable environmental and economic solutions to the food and livestock industry and investment returns to its shareholders. Bion’s proven technology provides comprehensive treatment of livestock waste that largely eliminates its environmental impacts, while simultaneously recovering valuable assets from the waste stream, including renewable energy, nutrients and clean water that have traditionally been wasted or underutilized.
Direct treatment of livestock waste can provide high-impact and cost-effective improvements to a number of our Nation’s air, water and public health challenges – many of which have been directly tied to large-scale livestock production. Many in the livestock industry have made it clear they are ready to be engaged – with proven technologies like Bion’s, agriculture is poised to deliver high-impact cost-effective solutions to some of our Nation’s most pressing environmental issues.
Advanced resource recovery represents a much-needed cleantech solution for the $200 billion meat, egg and dairy industry that will improve its bottom-line. The technology platform creates new revenue sources and opportunities for the producer. Nutrients are converted to high-value fertilizer coproducts. The platform was designed to produce organic fertilizer products that will command a significantly higher price over synthetics. Projects will produce pipeline-quality renewable natural gas that can be used as a transportation fuel, qualifying for significant renewable energy credits.
Environmental benefits, as well as energy- and resource-efficiency improvements, are verified to satisfy EPA requirements. These verified credits can be traded or sold. This same verification process supports a sustainable brand, certified by the USDA’s Process-Verified-Program (PVP), that can be communicated to the consumer. Bion has already achieved conditional approval, pending resubmission and final inspections, for USDA certification – the Agency’s PVP is the gold standard in food certifications. Both consumers and activist investors are increasingly demanding improved sustainability in the animal-protein industry.
In 1986, Jere Northrop, PhD-biophysics, demonstrated the ability to grow and control large populations of naturally-occurring bacteria that could be used to treat the waste from livestock production facilities using substantially less energy than traditional wastewater treatment methods. While there was no broad mandate at that time to reduce nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in our waterways, the impacts of excess nutrients were beginning to appear and Bion’s R&D efforts began.
Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, the understanding of the causes and effects of excess nutrients has improved. Since the Pew Oceans Commission report in 2003 that identified animal feedlots as a “major threat to our oceans”, more than 30 major studies have examined the impacts of nutrients on watersheds and their estuaries, both in the U.S. and globally. In 2010, US EPA established nutrient limits for the Chesapeake Bay that require substantial reductions from the six Bay states and DC. In 2013, US EPA began referring to excess nutrients as “the greatest water quality problem in the U.S.” It has only gotten worse, with several states now experiencing excess nitrate levels in groundwater (drinking water).
A Changing Clean Water Strategy
To deal with looming compliance costs in the billions of dollars, many states in the U.S. are developing strategies that address ‘non-point’ sources such as agriculture, the largest unregulated source of nutrients in most watersheds. Nutrient trading programs that allow lower-cost reductions from agriculture and other sources to offset high-cost regulatory mandates have been implemented in a number of states. More will follow. In a recent Letter of Expectation to Pennsylvania, US EPA went on record for the first time in support of credit trading and competitive procurement from the private-sector, especially to offset looming stormwater requirements.
Bion can supply large numbers of these credits, at very low cost, through the treatment of animal waste at large-scale livestock facilities. Bion systems are permitted just like a municipal waste or industrial treatment facility and the credits produced are third-party verified. These ‘point source reductions from a non-point source’ can be used to offset EPA point- and non-point source requirements, including those for stormwater.
Wisconsin passed the Clean Waters Healthy Economy Act. Legislation was introduced in Pennsylvania in June 2019 in response to a bipartisan legislative study that concluded a competitive bidding strategy open to all sources could save the state’s taxpayers more than 90 percent of anticipated compliance costs. That legislation recently passed the PA Senate in a bipartisan vote and is now being considered in the House. In 2017 Illinois announced it was moving toward a trading strategy. Maryland and Arkansas have announced they are moving forward with credit trading; Virginia already has. Change is happening now.
The US EPA, USDA, Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies support a voluntary market-driven strategy that will engage the private sector to provide solutions. US EPA recently announced changes to its water quality trading strategy, “EPA efforts seek to modernize the agency’s water quality trading policies to leverage emerging technologies and facilitate broader adoption of market-based programs.” Legislation was introduced in U.S. Congress in 2019 to apply the U.S. energy tax credit to nutrient recovery projects. The Trump Administration has expressed its support of market-driven strategies that reduce costs. They have also threatened to substantially reduce federal funding for both EPA and environmental and conservation funding, which would further drive the need for more cost-effective spending.
This is a game-changer
Former Executive Deputy Secretary of Programs
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Bion’s treatment solutions are a combination of biological, mechanical, and thermal processes that are proven in commercial operations; Bion’s second generation (2G) technology’s performance has been accepted by EPA, USDA and other regulatory agencies. Bion’s core biological processes are protected by seven U.S. patents, with two pending, and six international patents, with applications pending in the EU, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Bion’s third generation (3G) technology platform, described below, is a true game-changer.
Bion systems can remove and recover nutrients in livestock wastewater at a fraction of the cost of traditional wastewater treatment options, including current agricultural practices (aka ‘Best Management Practices’ or BMPs). And unlike most agricultural practices, Bion’s nutrient reductions can be measured and quantified like a point source. Further, nutrients are stabilized into a more ‘available’ form for crops, which creates better efficiency and much less impact on the environment.
Developing Market for Cleaning Up – Credits
Livestock waste is one of the largest unregulated sources of excess nutrients in most major watersheds; direct treatment represents a large untapped source of low-cost nutrient reductions/ credits. Bion’s technology is the only one at this time approved to generate verified credits from nutrient reductions from wet livestock waste – dairy, beef, and swine – that can be used as a qualified offset to EPA nutrient reduction mandates. Bion has estimated the market for nutrient reduction credits in the U.S. alone at $8 to $10 billion annually.
There is a growing focus by US EPA on stormwater treatment, where runoff from rain and snow melt from urban and rural areas is captured and treated. Stormwater treatment is one of the most expensive ways to remove nitrogen from a watershed and air emissions from livestock waste are one of the largest sources of nitrogen in stormwater. Increased attention is also being paid to elevated nitrate levels in aquifers and water wells in areas surrounding livestock production. The steeply escalating cost of clean water is forcing a change in our clean water strategy to address unregulated agricultural sources.
Third Gen Technology is a Game-Changer
In 2014, Bion began filing patents on its next-generation (3G) technology platform that is designed to substantially increase the value of the coproducts that are recovered from the waste stream, including renewable energy and a natural nitrogen-rich fertilizer product that Bion believes will be certified for use in organic production. Pilot studies indicate that at sufficient scale, the 3G technology will produce enough value from coproducts that Bion will no longer be dependent on selling nutrient reduction credits to move forward with certain projects. The first patent on the 3G platform was issued in October 2018, with an international application made in January 2019. Bion received a Notice of Allowance in January 2020 on a second 3G patent. More are coming.
Production agriculture, environmental necessities and raw economics are coming together like never before. Companies on the cutting edge of these efforts, like Bion, can change the entire way that farming and natural resource management have been done throughout our history.
Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Powerful Incentives to Adopt Bion’s Technology
Realization of livestock production’s environmental issues, coupled with higher energy costs and drought, has significantly impacted the industry’s economics as well. Further, the industry is facing backlash from both consumers and investors over its environmental and public health impacts. Using Bion’s technology, new state-of-the-art production facilities can be permitted and developed in strategic locations that enjoy a dramatically reduced environmental footprint, as well as improved resource and operational efficiencies. Certain existing operations of sufficient scale can be retrofitted to achieve many of the same benefits.
Bion-enabled facilities will produce clean, safe dairy, meat and/or egg products that can be branded to appeal to increasing consumer demand for food safety and environmentally-sustainable practices. Just as important, a voluntary incentive-based strategy will forestall inevitable regulation which would be a long drawn-out and costly process. Abrupt regulation would be highly disruptive at both the regional level and to our ability to compete in international markets. A voluntary incentive-based strategy will happen far more quickly and allow an orderly transformation and cleanup of the industry.
An Untapped Opportunity
As of 2017, there were nine million dairy cows, 90 million beef cattle, 60 million swine and billions of poultry in the U.S. that produce 100 times more waste of our human population. We spend over $100B annually to treat human waste yet the livestock waste is spread on our fields untreated. According to a recent report by US EPA, more than 55 percent of the country’s rivers and streams are in poor biological health; the most widespread problem is excessive levels of nutrient pollution. The U.S. livestock industry must reduce its footprint while improving its efficiencies if it is to remain environmentally and economically sustainable in the modern world.
This cleanup represents an essentially untapped opportunity. Bion’s technology has been tested and proven in commercial applications for more than 20 years. Technology, coupled with policy change we have introduced and our unique understanding of this new space, positions the Company to capitalize on changes to our country’s clean water strategies that have already begun and the inevitable changes coming to the livestock industry.
The livestock industry has begun to recognize the issues it faces and the alternatives Bion’s technology and others can enable. Many national and local representatives of the industry support Bion’s competitive bidding strategy, including the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O-Lakes, and JBS (the largest meat supplier in the world). Coupled with a growing understanding of real clean water costs on the part of other stakeholders, we believe this bodes well for the environment and the taxpayer, agriculture, Bion and our shareholders.
The farming community has long awaited this important opportunity, which allows the financing and installation of new technologies to reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into our Nation’s watersheds. The proposed legislation to implement a competitive bidding process for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is cutting-edge public policy and will lead to improved water management with lower costs to the citizens.
Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Governor of North Dakota
Bion Executive Vice Chairman