Circular and climate neutral

Most of the raw materials used in our society are applied in disposable goods. There is a broad consensus that this linear system is no longer sustainable. A transition towards circular usage of water, nutrients and carbon, in combination with a minimal loss of natural resources, is needed. Only then will our climate recover, and will we be able to continue feeding the ever-growing world population.

Towards a circular and climate-positive society

In the research programme ‘Towards a circular and climate-positive society’, Wageningen University & Research strives to develop new production systems for food and non-food products. We believe these systems should not only be circular and climate-neutral but should even have favourable effects on our climate. We conduct research that contributes to circular and climate-positive production systems on land and in water.

Until the year 2022, we are working on the transition towards a circular a climate-positive society through three interlinked topics:

1. Management of transitions

Within the area Building blocks for governance, we develop instruments that facilitate the transition towards a circular and climate-positive society.

Read more about developing tools for managing and monitoring transitions

We develop a conceptual framework and (model) toolsets capable of mapping the effects of policy. We draw up indicators to measure the influence of new bio-based products on ecosystems and agroproduction and to monitor how new products can be brought to market. We also identify the most critical barriers and develop strategies that can effectively contribute to this transition. Thus, we use research to enable the expansion of promising experiments.

2. Primary production systems

The new circular, climate-positive society demands new primary production systems.

Read more about redesigning the production of biological resources

Within this second area, we study how we may transform current production systems into a circular system. We also consider what the biomass needs of this new society are, and how and where this biomass can best be produced. This study is conducted while taking into account issues such as climate change, and claims on land placed by other transitions. Furthermore, we work on mapping and developing solutions for human and animal health issues that may arise from closing cycles. And we look at the best options to use the primary production system as a sink to store greenhouse gasses.

3. Biomass feedstock

The new biobased economy leaves no room for fossil-based products.

Read more about diversifying the use of biomass feedstock

This means that the industry should make more biobased, circular products. In this third research area, we apply our knowledge on the characteristics of biomass, biological and biotechnological processes, cultivation methods and new chemistry with which sustainable proteins are extracted from biomass, and we develop biobased alternatives for fossil-based resources.

Impact in 2030

Our aim is for Wageningen University & Research to contribute significantly to a circular and climate-positive society by the year 2030. An environmentally friendly society where contemporary production systems have given way to closed-cycle biobased systems beneficial to humans, animals and the world.