The Biobased economy or bioeconomy is an economy whereby vegetal and animal materials are the most important resources for our daily products. The bioeconomy represents the economic potential of harnessing the power of bioscience, using renewable biological resources to replace fossil resources in products, processes and services, therefore: ‘an economy where fossil is replaced by biomass’.
That sounds very easy but the shift to a Biobased economy is complicated because at this moment in almost every product fossil materials are used; Fossil resources (oil, gas, coal, peat) are not only used for energy, but also in plastics, fabrics, furniture, pesticides, fertilizers, potting compost and even in health and beauty products and medicines.
The shift to a Biobased economy is necessary because the use of fossil resources is not sustainable and has enormous consequences for the environment: pollution and increase of CO2 content in the air. The latter results in an increase in weather extremes such as drought and heavy precipitation and ultimately climate change. Measures are necessary to mitigate such as building water reservoirs.
These are examples of the indirect costs of the use of fossil resources.
Using biobased materials instead keeps the CO2 cycle in balance.
Financially the shift towards a Biobased economy is a big challenge; fossil materials are cheap due to decennia optimisation by the petrochemical industry. However, the follow-up costs (as for the environment) are not included in the prices.
Presently biobased products are slightly more expensive, but do not have follow-up costs. Therefore, it is advocated to use so called ‘fair pricing’. Measures like CO2 taxes or taxes on products instead on wages can contribute to that.
In a biobased economy, the challenge is to get the maximum value out of plant materials. That means using all plant parts and plant compounds as smart as possible.
The Bioeconomy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources, residues, by-products and side streams into value added products, such as food, feed, biobased products, services and bioenergy.
The Paris Climate agreement is inevitable and for Bioeconomy to be our future, we need to act responsibly and organise our society differently. The Biobased economy can offer good opportunities for entrepreneurs who can produce alternatives for fossil materials.
In 2018 it is decided that single-used plastic products will be banned in the European Union, such as straws, cleaning wipes, food packaging and plastic cutlery. Alternatives for these disposable plastic products could be made from paper, wood or biodegradable plastics. Certainly this last category offers opportunities for the biobased economy. New knowledge and experience are more than needed for this.
BioBoost aims to encourage a biobased development in horticulture and wants to speed up the process by collaboration in this sector.