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What is the bioeconomy and how could it help fight climate change?

What is the bioeconomy and how could it help fight climate change?

A circular bioeconomy – which turns renewable biological resources and waste streams into new products – is at the heart of the EU’s efforts to slash its carbon emissions while also maintaining economic growth. But what does a bioeconomy look like and how do we get there?

Horizon asked five young experts and activists what the bioeconomy means to them – and what needs to happen for it to become a reality.

We can create brand new products from waste
–Daria Wohlt, a doctoral candidate at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging in Germany

In the bioeconomy, we try to combine economic growth and sustainability, and develop processes based on biological knowledge to use or produce products in different fields, such as consumer products, food or fuel.

At the Fraunhofer Institute, I work to find uses for leftovers and side streams of banana, mango and coffee cherry (the fruit that encases coffee beans) production. You’re only using a specific part of an ingredient or plant, and there is so much left over. Think about banana peels. They are about 40% of the fruit’s weight but are usually used for fertiliser or animal feed. Worst case, they’re dropped on landfills. Those products contain valuable ingredients and we were able, for example, to produce tasty banana-peel puree for use in food applications.

The globe is facing multiple challenges right now: we have limited resources in terms of fossil fuels, land and water. At the same time, we’re facing climate change and we have a problem with waste production. With the bioeconomy, we can find new renewable raw materials and produce new products.

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