The Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were created as part of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg’s Akteursplattform Bioökonomie and are aimed at promoting Baden-Württemberg as a bioeconomy location. Two SIG meetings were held in May and June 2016.
Fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal will become less important as energy carriers in the future. Instead, biomass, biobased raw materials and organic waste will increasingly be used for energy, fuel and materials production. However, the transition towards a biobased industry can only be achieved when stakeholders from industry, associations and networks get involved, cooperate and contribute ideas. The development of bioeconomic solutions brings new opportunities for companies to become involved in the development of new services and products, enter into new partnerships and develop new technologies. BIOPRO has set up the Special Interest Groups to develop a platform that helps companies to establish new contacts in order to identify new paths of producing and using energy and discuss problems. The aim of the SIGs is to develop the bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg and make it usable for companies.
Around twenty or so representatives from industry and politics attended the first two SIG meetings on “Biopolymers/Bioplastics” and “Marketing, Communication, Ecobalance, Sustainability”.
Biopolymers are gaining in importance. “The 1.7 t produced in 2014 is set to grow to an estimated 7.8 million tons in 2019,” said Marco Neudecker from the IfBB at the SIG for Biopolymers/Bioplastics meeting. The event showed that bioplastics attract huge interest and have huge potential. Jochen Mößlein, CEO of Polysecure GmbH, emphasised the importance of using marker particles to facilitate material sorting, quality assurance, product authentification and anti-counterfeiting. Amongst other things, this technology enables biobased and petroleum-based polymers to be separated. Experts believe that recycling and recovering polymers from waste materials might lead to a circular economy without which a successful bioeconomy cannot survive. The participants at the SIG for Biopolymers/Bioplastics identified five main themes which will be discussed in more detail at future SIG meetings. These were: cooperative projects, communication, new products and technologies, raw materials and recycling as well as effective networking.
The participants at the SIG for Marketing, Communication, Ecobalance and Sustainability meeting discussed the strengths and weaknesses of ecobalances, the role of sustainability studies, environmental compatibility aspects as well as marketing biobased products. Dr. Guido Reinhardt from IFEU Heidelberg highlighted the need to develop transparent ecobalances. He also explained that the ecobalances of similar products can be quite different and are not transferable without recalculation. He added that complete sustainability analyses need to be based on many different analyses and aspects, and that an ecobalance is just one of several aspects that go to make up environmental compatibility assessments.
Alfred Kugler of Mosca GmbH showed that there are still some obstacles to overcome in the field of marketing before biobased products can sell as well as their traditional petroleum-based counterparts. He explained that it is customers who decide whether they buy a biobased product, which is often more expensive than petroleum-based products. Public relations work will be needed to inform customers about bioeconomic products, technologies and services. This is because biobased products are mainly about sustainability rather than altered functionality, something customers do not always realise.
A bioeconomy can only succeed when many people contribute their expertise and industry knowledge. Close cooperation at many levels is therefore essential. Why not contribute to shaping the bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg? You can do this by registering with the Akteursplattform or a Special Interest Group on bio-pro.de.