The EU project Rehap recently hosted a workshop to explore the matter of the availability of raw materials that can be used in the bioeconomy. The bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and microorganisms – to produce food, materials and energy.
There is concern shared across the EU about the long-term viability of how we use our renewable natural resources in the bioeconomy. A report published by the European Environment Agency in August 2018, “The circular economy and the bioeconomy”, revealed that the EU wants to progressively intervene in the areas of food waste, biomass and bio-based products. As the bioeconomy continues to rapidly grow, these areas are under increased pressure to tackle expanding supply and demand issues and shifts in the availability of land.
The workshop, which was held on 27 September at the University of Augsburg, Germany, promoted successful cases for bio-based products and materials, as well as detailed results from the ongoing Rehap project. Presentations focused on the techniques and bottlenecks of the technologies and processes used in both Rehap and other projects, with a focus on the availability of raw materials.
Dr Klaus Richter from the Technical University of Munich gave a presentation on the “cascading use” of wood. This involves prioritising value-adding non-fuel uses of wood, so it is only burned for energy after it has been used, re-used and recycled as much as possible. The WoodWisdom EraNet project was given as an example of how this approach can be used in the forestry sector.
The Rehap project presented its developments in using advanced technologies to make sure the products it is making – bio-based products for the construction industry – are as sustainable as possible. This included an assessment of the availability of waste biomass in the EU agroforestry sector up until 2030, and the development of a supply network for the transportation of this biomass.
The presentation also revealed how the sustainability of Rehap products and materials may actually help boost their deployment both within and outside the construction sector.