Theme Closing loops and the bio-economy

Europe and the rest of the world are striving to develop the bio-economy. That means developing renewable raw materials and the corresponding adapted processes as an alternative to the products and the energy from fossil-based raw materials.


Circular, green economy

Anyone who says “renewable raw materials” inevitably ends up at “farming”. For the Flemish agro-industry, the potential of the bio-economy is real. The range of possible end products is many times greater than what is traditionally associated with applications of agricultural products. Besides food and feed, it can also include plastics, bio-energy, chemicals, medicines, or building materials. ILVO finds that two characteristics of the green economy are essential:

  1. Wherever possible, the cascade principle is taken into account, in which biomass is first used for the highest possible valorization value and then waste streams are used as input for the following applications.
  2. To organize the bio-economy in a circular way, so that there is no waste. The final by-products from a bio-refining process can be processed into soil improvers.

Systems perspective

It is already obvious that technological innovations are an important key in the transition to the circular and bio-economies. ILVO advocates for a multi- and transdisciplinary approach and a systems perspective, in which all parts and actors are involved in a certain chain supply.

To reach adequate production numbers, the industry must be able to count on stable amounts of available renewable products and stable quality. ILVO chooses to focus on both medium-sized and large local biomass streams. In Flanders, medium sized flows are definitely relevant, given the large concentration of small and medium-sized farms and food and feed companies.

Development of bio-economy

ILVO defines the following research questions for future bio-economy related research:

  • How do we produce biomass as sustainably as possible in function of the bio-economy, without depleting the soil?
  • Which biomass do we produce?
  • How do we process this biomass as efficiently as possible in a larger range of bio-based products?
  • What can bio-economy mean for Flanders and, more specifically, for the agricultural industry?
  • How do the Flemish bio-economy innovation pioneers innovate, and what can the future players in this chain learn from their experience?
  • And how do we generally reduce the use of fossil-based resources?

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See also

Publication 24/11/2021

Organic agriculture in Flanders

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Ook deze keer bundelen we informatie over Vlaams onderzoek relevant voor de biologische landbouw en voedingssector.