Sustainable and circular chemistry

A truly circular economy is based on renewable chemicals and materials that are not only designed for specific applications, but that can also be efficiently recycled or converted into new raw materials after use. We call this Circular by Design. With Sustainable & Circular Chemistry, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research aims to achieve sustainable chemistry. Renewable raw materials are converted into compounds and materials for the circular economy.

Sustainable and biobased

Our experts have unique experience and knowledge in developing new biobased chemical products and the processes required to make them; products that will replace the substances and materials currently made from crude oil and natural gas. Examples are:

  • Bulk and platform chemicals such as HMF, bio-aromatics or sorbitol
  • Specialty chemicals such as surfactants, solvents or additives
  • Chemical compounds such as FDCA, isosorbide or epoxies
  • Polymers such as polyesters (PEF, PLA, OJEC), polyamides or polyurethanes
  • Modified biopolymers such as starch, cellulose or pectin

End of Life strategy

Another characteristic of a truly circular economy is that every chemical and material has a clearly-defined End of Life (EOL) strategy. This is therefore a very important component of all our research projects.  

  • For collected and recycled products, this means that it must be clear how frequently and in which manner an object such as a plastic bottle can be mechanically or chemically converted into a new bottle or a similar product.
  • Products that we cannot or do not want to reuse or recycle (soap, detergent, paints, nappies) must be biodegradable, so that there are no emissions to or accumulation in the environment.
  • In the case of biobased products, we consider the long carbon cycle. After all, products decompose to produce CO2, which is used by plants, and which can in turn be used to make new biobased products.

Safe by Design

Our experts increasingly conduct a risk analysis of new substances and materials at an early stage of the research project. Important components of this analysis are early toxicity screening and biodegradability. These make it clear early on in the process whether a product or material really is sustainable, and therefore ‘Safe by Design’.

Unique solutions

Due to the broad pallet of disciplines and expertise available, including organic chemistry, catalysis and biocatalysis, polymer chemistry and analytical chemistry, but also close cooperation with fermentation technology, molecular biology, biomass pretreatment technology, separation technology and process modelling, the experts at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research are able to provide unique solutions to meet the challenges of the sustainable, biobased circular economy.

Interested in the possibilities?

Contact us for an informal conversation.