Strategies for Biobased and Circular Value Chains

How to switch to renewable feedstocks for your product and are these feedstocks locally available? Is it possible to make your product from biomass or from circular feedstocks? What are the options to create biobased and circular value chain in your sector or region? Some examples of questions which so many organizations - governments and companies – are struggling with when defining their sustainability strategy. But how to choose and weigh the different options? What are the impacts, social, environmental and economic? How to implement as part of a solid strategy?

Biobased chemicals and materials provide good opportunities to make value chains more circular and sustainable, while at the same time creating new business and economic opportunities. The circular biobased economy is however a complex area to navigate, because of the broad range of biobased technologies, uncertainties about the quality/availability of biomass feedstocks and lack of insight into the competitiveness or sustainability of the final product. These activities will also have impact on other areas such as biodiversity, soil health, land use and existing industries. Companies and regions need tailor-made analyses that enable sound decision making and strategy development about engagement in the circular biobased economy.

A tailor made strategy towards a biobased circular economy

Each organization is unique and requires a tailor-made strategy to embark on the circular biobased economy. Regions, municipalities and local communities deal with issues like spatial policy, economic development and environmental management of the territories for which they are responsible. In developing a strategy towards a circular biobased economy, all of these areas must be considered. Larger companies that want to make the switch to base their products (more) on circular and biobased feedstock have (to obtain) a position in the value chain and ensure that it is aligned with their needs. A tailor-made analysis can help these companies in making sound decisions on their strategy.

Based on an integral analysis, these organizations can take action to develop a strategy and mobilize stakeholders/partners to implement the necessary actions.

Strategic overview combined with in-depth knowledge

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is uniquely positioned in that it can oversee complete biobased and circular value chains; from the entire spectrum of sectors in which biomass is released (agri-food, forestry, waste management, new crops) to the products that are made from it (food, materials, chemicals) and all fractionation, conversion and production steps involved. We have state-of-the-art lab and pilot facilities, and 150 experts that are knowledgeable about biomass, biomass processing and potential applications. They know how to apply this knowledge in the development of new value chains and understand how this can impact sustainability and business opportunities.

In addition, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research – in collaboration with the other institutes of Wageningen University & Research – can also quantitatively study these value chains from different angles, such as sustainability (e.g. circularity, environmental footprint), land use/area development and biodiversity. In addition we have executed many projects understanding the non-technical issues in developing and implementing circular and biobased value chains, for example in European consortia. We have investigated various aspects, including certification (SUSTCERT4BIO), implementing tools (Power4Bio, MainstreamBio), adverse effects, stakeholder engagement (BIOLOC, ENGAGE4BIO) and laws and regulations. These two angles – technology and non-technical issues - go hand in hand in developing new sustainable value chains.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is active in the full spectrum of the circular biobased economy. Our ability to zoom in on specific domains from different perspectives helps us to accurately and integrally answer our customers’ questions without overlooking important factors.

Examples of biobased strategies

Some examples where we have supported governments and companies in biobased strategies:

  • Noord4Bio: Recommendations to connect the agricultural sector in the Northern Netherlands with the chemical and plastics sectors in the region.
  • Sugar4Fermentation: A study for Northern Netherlands on the production of green building blocks for biobased plastics from agricultural crops through fermentation.
  • Provincie Zuid-Holland: Developing a biobased strategy for the Dutch province of South Holland linking horticulture, logistics and (bio)chemical industries.
  • Land use perspectives for a Biobased Circular Economy (part of National Growth Fund proposal): Study on the use of agricultural land for growing crops that are needed as raw materials for the production of biobased plastics, chemicals and building materials on an industrial scale.
  • Heineken: circularity tool for circular use of side-streams
  • Bio-hub: recovering nutrients from manure in circular agriculture

More information

If you would like to know more or discuss your challenges, please contact us.