Wednesday, 1 June 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Bioeconomy focus

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be SusChem and the sustainable bioeconomy. In this blog Flavio Benedito, SusChem secretary and Cefic Innovation Manager (pictured below) responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines the field, its many areas of innovation for sustainable chemistry and how you can participate in the discussion on the sustainable bioeconomy at #suschem16.

A sustainable bioeconomy is one of the five SusChem priority areas for innovation. The European Commission sees the bioeconomy as Europe's response to the key environmental challenges that the world is facing today. Promoting the bioeconomy will help to reduce Europe’s dependence on natural resources, transform manufacturing, promote sustainable production of renewable resources and encourage their conversion into food, feed, fibre, biobased products and bioenergy, while growing new jobs and industries.

Over the coming decades, the world will witness increased competition for limited and finite natural resources. A 70% increase of the world food supply will be  required to feed the nine billion global population by 2050.

A transition will be needed towards an optimal use of renewable biological resources. We must move towards sustainable primary production and processing systems that can produce more food, fibre and other biobased products with fewer inputs, less environmental impact and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Managed in a sustainable manner, the bioeconomy can help build a more competitive, innovative and prosperous Europe by:
  • sustaining a wide range of public goods, including biodiversity and ecosystem services,
  • reducing the environmental footprint of primary production and the supply chain as a whole
  • increasing competitiveness,
  • enhancing Europe's self-reliance, and
  • providing jobs and business opportunities.
SusChem and the bioeconomy
A sustainable bioeconomy features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) encompassing the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and associated waste streams into value-added products such as feed, food, biobased products and bioenergy.

Integrated biorefineries are central to the development of the bioeconomy and were one SusChem’s original flagship innovation concepts. They can deliver new sources of chemical building blocks that are either structurally similar to fossil-based feedstock or new with novel functionalities and improved properties. In order to unlock the full potential of a sustainable biomass supply, it is essential to consider all possible sources including second generation biomass and waste streams (such as municipal wastes). The bioeconomy can improve resource efficiency and is a key element in achieving the broader concept of a circular, integrated, renewable economy.

Innovation is also a key solution provider for the transition to a more Circular Economy and the development by the chemical sector of innovative advanced materials and process technologies is essential to enable a better use of existing resources along the whole life cycle, to develop new production and recycling paths.

SusChem – an essential link
SusChem is an essential link between the chemical industry, industrial biotechnology and stakeholders in the bioeconomy and is actively involved in two large and relevant PPPs between the European Commission and industry that were launched in 2014: the ‘Biobased Industries’ (BBI) Joint Undertaking that brings together research and industry partners along the whole value chain of biobased products and focuses on innovation for products from biobased feedstock; and the ‘Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency’ (SPIRE) PPP that provides a solid basis for academia, SMEs, and multinational companies to collaborate on cross-sectorial initiatives in these areas.

SusChem contributes to the alignment of both initiatives and recently participated in the successful BBI Info Day.

The interface between BBI and SPIRE is the provision and use of biobased platform chemicals. In addition, both PPPs may support projects using biotechnological conversion processes and specific improvements of biotechnology processes may be eligible for funding through either PPP. SusChem is working to ensure the coherence of on-going and future funding initiatives and the deployment of flagship projects that demonstrate technological leadership and that Europe is a globally competitive location to invest in the bioeconomy.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on water treatment, reuse and management, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. This dedicated registration website includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels - the venue for the event.

You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.

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