Building a Bio-based Economy for Europe for 2020
The vision of a society that is far less dependent on fossil fuels for energy and industrial raw materials is closer than ever to becoming a reality in Europe. The application of biotechnology for the sustainable processing and production of chemicals, materials and fuels from biomass creates an opportunity to reduce significantly our dependence on coal, oil and gas. That vision and that opportunity have a name: the bio-based economy.
With its new Europe 2020 strategy, the EU has created a framework through which to achieve an ambitious series of goals – economic, social and environmental – by the end of this decade. The growth of bio-based products opens up diverse pathways towards the achievement of these goals.
Greater use of renewable and expandable resources offers increased potential for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Production processes that use less water and energy and generate less waste can make industry both more sustainable and more competitive. And the creation of new non-food markets for crops, together with the emergence of alternative income sources for farmers, can give depressed rural areas a new lease of life.
Yet while these opportunities are real, much remains to be done before Europe can benefit fully from the advantages of a competitive bio-based economy. Therefore:
- There must be improved access to renewable raw materials for industrial use, at competitive prices.
- Research must be more targeted, and we must reduce the distance between the laboratory and the marketplace for innovative new products.
- We must use all the tools at our disposal, especially public procurement, to kick-start the market for new bio-based products.