The aim of the bioeconomy is to move industry’s raw material base towards a greater use of biogenic raw materials or to increasingly use bioinspired processes and bring to the forefront issues such as climate protection and sustainability. The bioeconomy therefore creates new opportunities for services, technologies and products. Bioeconomy products already exist, especially as far as chemicals and materials are concerned.
Fossils are decomposed remains of prehistoric plants and animals.
The symbiosis between different organisms within their environment is called ecosystem.
According to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), biobased products are defined as "products wholly or partly derived from biomass, such as plants, trees or animals. A biobased product is normally characterised by biobased carbon content or biobased content. The product may be an intermediate, material, semifinished or final product” (EN 16575: 2014).
In particular, biobased value creation means developing products that can last on the market and meet the sustainability requirements of the bioeconomy. This balancing act is not easy, because biobased products usually have a price disadvantage compared to fossil-based products. The consequential damage to ecosystems is not priced in for fossil-based products. Fossil-based production processes have also been established for many decades and are therefore closely coordinated.
Nevertheless, companies have already achieved economic success with some bioeconomic products. Biobased products have the potential to replace or improve fossil products; biobased products with completely new properties can create completely new solutions. This is made possible through the interplay of technological innovations, as well as environmental and economic benefits. It is not just the raw material base that counts, but also the willingness to innovate with regard to the use and development of biobased technologies.
The diversity of the bioeconomy means that biobased products are not restricted to one industrial sector. There is a relatively broad spectrum of applications and markets. Specific examples of biobased products are shown in the diagram. The focus of a biobased economy is to increase value creation with these and other products, while always bearing sustainability in mind.
The days when forests died off in Germany are over. This is not only excellent news in terms of carbon storage. Using wood also helps us avoid carbon dioxide emissions. More and more cities rely on timber constructions, which have long been used in the high-tech sector. The HolzProKlima competition has massively promoted sustainable building construction in Baden-Württemberg, highlighting what it can offer in terms of climate protection.
Constructing buildings with renewable resources is becoming more and more trendy. The Schorndorf-based company ISOCALM GmbH specialises in the manufacture of thermal insulation boards made of elephant grass. The elephant grass is grown and processed in Africa and global distribution of the boards is organised through the company's headquarters in Germany.
The Freiburg-based start-up company Ö-Klo leases composting toilets and is committed to the recovery of human urine and faeces. The young Ö-Klo entrepreneurs believe that reviving natural material cycles of soil, plants, food and excreta is crucial in times when natural resources such as phosphorus are dwindling.