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From linear fossil economy to circular bioeconomy

Our present-day society is based mainly on fossil raw materials and energy sources. In other words, the world is tied together in a fossil economy, where the dominating principle is still linear: Extract –> Produce –> Consume –> Discard.

There are basically two reasons that the current paradigm has sent the world on a very bad course:

1) Rapidly decreasing natural resources

2) Rapidly increasing waste

 

Recycling is fine, but…

Until now, the world has tried to solve the problem by a combination of minimising consumption and maximising utilisation, such as by recycling.

In reality, this strategy does not solve the problem; it just postpones it for a while. With a population growth that means we will be close to 10 billion people on this earth already by 2050 (including 3 billion more members of the middle class than at the present), it is crucial to press the reset button. Now.  

 

Circular bioeconomy

A durable solution requires a paradigm shift towards a whole new type of economy. A sustainable system based on the premise that the planet’s biological resources are only on loan and therefore must be integrated into circular cycles with minimal waste. 

The prerequisite for establishing such a circular bioeconomy is development of completely new industrial processes with biomass as the crucial input. This also means that methods for processing and refining the biomass need to be developed so that in addition to supplying energy in biogas plants, the biomass can also be transformed to products such as:

·         feed protein

·         food ingredients

·         bio-oil

·         chemicals

·         building materials

·         bioplast

·         pharmaceutical products.

Circular bioeconomy has enormous potential, not least for the food and agricultural sectors, but also for other Danish industrial sectors. The circular bioeconomy also has a wide range of obvious benefits in a larger societal perspective.

 

Groundbreaking interdisciplinary research

CBIO Aarhus University Centre for Circular Bioeconomy was established in May 2017 by Science and Technology at Aarhus University. 

At the centre we carry out groundbreaking interdisciplinary research across the academic areas of the university. We have extensive marine and terrestrial experimental areas and unique research facilities, several of which are full-scale pilot. 

A crucial element of the work carried out at the centre is our close collaboration with Danish and international companies and organisations in the biobased economy. This is a focus that to a great extent underpins innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural, food, pharmaceutical, plastic and other industries with an eye for new bioeconomic trends. 

CBIO’s research and projects are divided into seven main areas that comprise all parts of the circular bioeconomy from growing biomass to logistics, handling, refining, product development, test and recycling. We also work with the impacts on nature and the environment of various solutions, and one of the centre’s seven research areas focuses on the economical and societal aspects of the biobased economy.