LCM conference 2017

Category: Raw materials supply chains in the light of the circular economy

Title: Raw material potential for biopolymers in Europe

Authors: Andrea Thorenz, Lars Wietschel, Axel Tumaa

Resource Lab, University of Augsburg, Universitaetsstr. 16, 86159, Augsburg, Germany


In the last years the biobased chemical industry is characterized by a strong growth. Many innovative products and materials like biopolymers have been developed. Europe’s demand for biopolymers is among the largest of the world and exceeds the domestic supply. Main sources for biopolymers are agroforestry residues. Therefore, biogenic renewable raw materials are the basic materials for a future oriented bioeconomy. Due to their arisings, wheat straw, maize stover and bark from coniferous and broadleaf are of special interest for establishing a bioeconomy in Europe. To get an understanding of available biomass amounts, competitive utilizations like straw as soil conditioner, as resource for livestock farming or the use for energetic purposes have to be evaluated. Besides this, any competition to the food production has to be avoided.

For the design of industrial processes, a detailed knowledge concerning the supply potential of different sources of agroforestry residues is needed. This covers the quantification of arisings of various sources of agroforestry waste as well as their regional distribution.

Methodologically, the analysis of the raw material potential is based on a detailed evaluation of EUROSTAT and FAO databases combined with a state-of-the-art literature review. In a second step, a material flow analysis is applied to assess and structure contemporary concepts of residue management with a presentation of competitive applications and their contribution to existing life cycles. For the design of a sustainable bioeconomy, potential variations of future arisings have to be evaluated. Therefore, a quantitative approach based on statistical methods like regression analysis is applied.

As a result of the research, we present sustainably available potentials of selected agricultural and forestry residues on regional level in the EU. Information about regional supply and demand of biomass will be crucial for upscaling successfully launched bioeconomic processes.

Keywords: biopolymers, agroforestry waste, state-of-the-art, material flow analysis, EU, statistical methods

[1] EU-Project REHAP: Systemic approach to Reduce Energy demand and CO2 emissions of processes that transform agroforestry waste into high added value products. Horizon 2020. No. 723670.