Biobased chemicals: the ultimate solution for a low-carbon- industry

Biobased chemicals are indispensable for the chemical industry to be able to achieve the Paris Agreement CO2 goals by 2050. What is the best strategy for the transition from 'fossil' to 'biobased'?

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Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is collaborating with the agri-food sector and chemical industry on sustainable alternatives for existing chemicals and their resulting end products. Biobased chemicals, as replacements for fossil-based feedstock, could substantially lower the CO2 footprint of the chemical industry. Our vision is based on the following principles:

  • All basic chemicals can have a biobased alternative. These can be so-called drop-in products (with the same structure as current petrochemicals) or new chemicals with new characteristics. Drop-in chemicals are preferably only used for products with a long lifespan which do not end up in the environment.
  • There is a real need for new, biobased chemicals with which the industry can make new, sustainable products (non-drop-in chemicals). These might be, for example, biodegradable packaging, lubricants or personal care products that do not damage the environment and environmentally-friendly alternatives for petrochemical-based 'substances of very high concern' which are suspected to be, or have been proven to be, harmful to humans and the environment.
  • A future sustainable chemical industry is only realistic if at least 50% of all biobased chemicals is used as building blocks for new, sustainable end products.
  • The overall performance of the new products must be at least as good as that of the current products.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research aims to carry out a great deal of research in the coming years into the development of biobased chemicals. Chemicals which are not only sustainably produced, but which offer better functional features in new products than chemicals produced from petroleum. Not only is it  good for the environment, but it also works to the advantage of business competitiveness