The role of businesses in the use of bioresources

role of businesses in the use of bioresources

Bioresources are pivotal to helping businesses successfully implement circular economy strategies and enhance business sustainability while mitigating climate change. A circular bioeconomy is quite innovative in that it transforms renewable biological resources and waste streams into new products. The circular bioeconomy is at the heart of the EU’s efforts to curb carbon and greenhouse gas emissions while still driving economic growth.

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the circular bioeconomy represents a $7.7 trillion opportunity. Ultimately, the bioeconomy is built on the idea that we must strive for more sustainable and circular use of resources in a world where both population and consumption are constantly increasing. Continue reading to learn why businesses should embrace bioresources and the bioeconomy.

What is bioeconomy? 

If you are not yet familiar with the term bioeconomy, it covers all sectors, from agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, and horticulture. In addition, all systems such as land, food, nature, built environment, energy, and health. 

The bioeconomy is part of the economy that utilises renewable biological resources like plants, animals, derived biomass, microorganisms, and organic waste to produce feed, bio-based products, food, energy, and services, whilst also minimising waste. 

Bioeconomy provides society with a path to apply science, technology, knowledge, and innovation as sustainable solutions to how we consume and use our biological resources. 

However, we must do this in a means that increases social equality and respects nature by actively curbing our use of fossil resources and creating environmentally friendly products, practices, and local jobs in places where we would like to live. 

It is a key element of the circular economy and is seen as a natural enabler to help us achieve significant reductions in overall greenhouse gas emissions. It is believed the bioeconomy can help us get on the path to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. 

What is circular bioeconomy? 

A circular bioeconomy is essentially an economy that is powered by nature. It is a relatively new economic model, focusing on the use of renewable natural capital, emphasising waste reduction and replacing the significant range of fossil-based, non-renewable products currently used.

Its approach is rather different from current systems by design. Under the circular bioeconomy, materials are used for as long as possible, and adequate emissions-reducing practices are set in stone. 

Marine and land ecosystems, production industries like forestry and agriculture, and the industrial sector work in an intentionally circular manner. This means of working is complemented by technological innovations and scientific approaches to establish further environmentally friendly materials and drive regeneration.

We desperately need to switch to a circular bioeconomy. Our current economic system has failed to value nature. This is very threatening to worldwide stability. A circular bioeconomy allows us to transform our food, land, industrial systems, and health. 

This kind of economic structure could allow for more sustainable local landscapes and pave the way for new income opportunities. The transition to a circular bioeconomy will bring opportunities for decarbonisation and contribute to rebuilding and managing ecosystems and landscapes that desperately need it. 

Why businesses should embrace bioresources and the bioeconomy

Businesses today are increasingly seeking to have a positive impact on the environment by adopting sustainability practices and initiatives. One vital arena for those activities, which they cannot ignore, is the bioeconomy. The bioeconomy focuses on utilising non-fossil, biological resources, waste streams and manufacturing byproducts, generally combined with a whole-life-cycle, circular product perspective. 

This movement is driven by new materials processes and technologies that supplement fossil-based ingredients with bio-based alternatives from forestry, marine, and agriculture industries. The circularity element is embedded with practices that extend the useful life of products for as long as possible and then repurpose their components and materials in different ways. Several technologies and materials can effectively replace fossil-based components and ingredients.

For instance, bamboo and mushrooms can replace packaging. Additionally, pharmaceutical products can be created from the likes of algae and seaweed. Finally, plastics can be created from dandelions. Processes and products within the bioeconomy cover substantial ground. We have been assessing the bioeconomy and what it could offer us in the face of this climate emergency for well over a decade. 

An excellent example of this in practice is Coca-Cola. The global drinks brand introduced the first iteration of its PlantBottle in 2009 when sustainability was far less spoken about. This positioned the 30 percent bio-based plastic bottle as a more eco-friendly choice than traditional plastic. The bottles were not compostable, however, and as a result, the brand received many accusations of ‘biowashing’. It was for this reason that the company began conducting research into 100 percent bio-based plastic options. 

How businesses can leverage bioresources and fuel the bioeconomy 

More than 60 countries have already started coordinating bioeconomy strategies, such as South Africa, Canada, and China. Supporting the bioeconomy is not so different from supporting the circular economy. Below are some steps to help you implement your circular, bio-based business strategy. 

Firstly, you must explore the potential for switching out non-renewable materials for materials that derive from the bioeconomy. Implementing your business bioeconomy strategy will be all about process rethinking. You should consider production processes that maximise the utilisation of residual and raw materials. 

For instance, introducing enzymes into textile production will strengthen fibres, making the textile last longer. It will also reduce the need for both energy and water during the production stage. Businesses should then consider production outputs that can be utilised for new purposes. 

Finally, keep in mind that to implement a fully circular, bio-based business model, some rethinking and redesigning of your current operations and structures will likely be involved. This part of the process will entail building networks with new partners and developing relationships in other industries. 

Summary

By leveraging bioresources and innovative processes, companies can transform their operations, reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, and contribute to a more sustainable future. The circular bioeconomy not only offers a significant economic opportunity but also fosters social equity and ecological responsibility. 

Businesses that adopt bioeconomy practices can create new revenue streams, improve resource efficiency, and support global decarbonisation efforts. All in all, the bioeconomy represents a forward-thinking approach to business that aligns economic growth with sustainability.

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