Bio-based circular economy: science, agriculture and industry jointly develop solutions to integrate organic raw materials, products and waste into a closed, regional cycle of materials.
Bioeconomy has potential. Sustainable and bio-based economic activity, in which the circular society replaces the throwaway society, merges three important tasks for the future: food security, raw materials supply and energy transition. The Rhineland region offers very good conditions for exploiting the opportunities of the bioeconomy: it has a strong agricultural and food industry thanks to good soils and a mild climate, a diversified economy, a dense research landscape and numerous conurbations as sales markets. Supported by structural change programmes, the Rhineland region is to become a model region for the bioeconomy, officially “Modellregion BioökonomieREVIER Rheinland” – and thus a shining example for others. The coordination office is located at the Jülich Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG-2). It also supports 15 innovation labs in which Jülich, together with partners from science and industry, tests promising research ideas in practice.
more information on the BioökonomieREVIER (in German): biooekonomierevier.de
of biomass per year could potentially be processed into higher-value products in the Rhineland region. The biomass consists of organic waste, crop waste and residues from sugar production, among other things.
Cooperations: bringing together science, business, municipalities, associations and civil society
Transfer of knowledge: rapid implementation of scientific innovations in the economy
Founding of companies: turning ideas from bioeconomy into business models
Jobs: circular economy provides new raw materials and products – and thus new sources of income and jobs
Education and training: new professions emerge, old ones change, educational opportunities prepare for them
Citizen participation: people cannot only find out what the bioeconomy has to offer, but also get involved themselves
Building a profile: identifying and using strengths and potentials of municipalities in bioeconomy
Arable land is to yield double benefits, with plants growing on the ground and solar panels installed on high scaffolding above them, generating energy. Livestock farming would also be possible. Jülich researchers and their partners in the Agrophotovoltaics 2.0 innovation lab APV2.0 are currently building a demonstration plant.
The region’s sugar, jam and chocolate production leaves behind tonnes of sugar waste. In the UpRePP innovation lab (upcycling of regional residues for the production of platform chemicals), Jülich and Aachen researchers want to apply microorganisms to the sugar waste in order to produce starting materials for bio-based plastics. These are intended to replace chemicals made from petroleum.
Paper is mostly made from wood or recycled paper. The company Creapaper, by contrast, relies on grass fibre, which it supplies to the paper and packaging industry from its Düren premises. The conversion enabled Creapaper to massively reduce both water and electricity consumption as well as CO2 emissions. With Jülich’s support, the raw material and production are to be further improved.
Photo: BayWa illustrations: Diana Köhne