Wandering through the trade show floor at a national facilities management conference a couple of years ago, Loren Kato, safety program manager for the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, noticed something unusual.  One booth stood out among the dozens on display.

Images of soybean fields served as the backdrop for the United Soybean Board’s (USB) booth displaying dozens of soy-biobased products. USB was not there to sell anything, but rather to educate attendees about soy-biobased products. Renewable by nature, soy-based products can offer a more sustainable choice than traditional petroleum-based products, according to a peer-reviewed life cycle profile that documents multiple energy and environmental benefits of U.S. soybean farming and processing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred Program states, “Biobased products provide all the benefits as conventional products: they are cost-comparative, readily available (made by small companies and large corporations), and perform as well or better than their petroleum-containing counterparts.”

Kato was intrigued.  She spoke to USB representatives about the wide-range of products available for use in facility maintenance.  Kato learned that soy-biobased products also support American jobs, according to a USDA Report to Congress on the Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry. When Kato returned to Fredericksburg, she handed product samples to staff members to try.  But that’s just the beginning of the story.

Fast forward to the spring of 2017 when the city decided to tackle a decades-old graffiti problem.  The problem was two-fold.  First, the spray paint was layered on granite rocks near the Rappahannock River. Due to this environmentally sensitive location, city staff members worried about product runoff impacting the river ecosystem.  Second, some of the graffiti dated to 1996 and vandals repeatedly painted over it, making it extremely difficult to remove.

“We were looking for an environmentally friendly product that could be used in close proximity to the water without the runoff harming fish or foliage along the river bank,” said City of Fredericksburg Superintendent of Parks & Maintenance Aaron Simmons. “Most graffiti removers contain harmful chemicals that would pose a threat to the environment.”

Kato remembered the soy-biobased products she had learned about at the trade show. After some research, she identified Blue Bear Graffiti Remover, manufactured by Franmar, as a product that could help them get the job done safely.  She contacted the company and they provided her with two products to try on different surfaces – BLUE BEAR® Hard Surface Graffiti Remover and BLUE BEAR® Porous Surface Graffiti Remover.

According to Simmons, both BLUE BEAR products worked very well and the entire project was completed in much less time than was originally anticipated.  The city scheduled the project to be completed during a 90-day window beginning in early summer 2017, but it wound up taking just three days.

“The area we cleaned was roughly equivalent to one acre,” Simmons explained. “We could have completed the entire project in 24 hours if it hadn’t been for scheduling issues.  The project not only took less time than expected, the products worked better than any other graffiti remover I have tried, including those that were not necessarily environmentally friendly.”

The hard surface graffiti remover worked well on the granite, while the porous surface graffiti remover worked well on the sandstone.  The process was simple.

“We applied the product with a pump sprayer and let it sit for 20 minutes (the recommended time),” Simmons said.  “Then we rubbed it around with a brush and rinsed it off with a power washer. There were a couple of places where paint layers dated back to 1996 that needed two applications.  After that, the graffiti came right off and the rocks were once again pristine, with no dead fish and no damage to foliage along the river. It’s very good stuff.”

Unfortunately, graffiti is an ongoing problem for the city, and they plan to continue using the BLUE BEAR products to tackle it every two weeks. And with Fredericksburg’s emphasis on sustainability, city staff expects to incorporate the use of additional biobased products in their operations.

A growing U.S. biobased products industry is generating substantial economic activity, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farm commodities. Soy ingredients are helping manufacturers produce products that reduce their dependency on petrochemicals and satisfy consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products.

Soybeans planted annually, offer an abundant and renewable supply of ingredients for food, livestock feed, as well as hundreds of biobased products. Virginia is one of 30 states where soybeans are grown. In 2016, U.S. farmers harvested soybeans on 600,000 acres in Virginia.*

*Source: USDA NAAS data. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=VIRGINIA

For more information visit on Franmar’s BLUE BEAR Products visit, http://www.franmar.com/home or contact Dan Brown at franmar@franmar.com.

This case study is provided for information only. The United Soybean Board does not endorse, promote or make any representations regarding any specific suppliers mentioned herein.