The bioeconomy encompasses products made from renewable biomass, like plants, and organic waste streams, like food waste.
Of course, the bioeconomy is not just products – it also consists of people and businesses. For example, it includes the farmers who grow the plants; the chemists, scientists and engineers who create and build plant-based products; and the companies and their employees who then sell those products; and many, many others. You become part of the bioeconomy when you buy renewable plant-based products or utilize sustainably-produced energy.
If the industry expands with a focus on sustainability, there are substantial economic, environmental, and social benefits to be found.
The circular bioeconomy marries two key sustainability concepts. First, it involves using more renewable resources for energy, chemicals, and materials – like products made from plants. Second it works to keep those sustainable materials and products in use longer, instead of throwing them away. Rather than becoming garbage or pollution, in a circular bioeconomy the products are reused, repurposed or recycled. Take composting as an example: when food waste and compostable dishware are properly diverted to industrial composting facilities, they become healthy, valuable soil. That soil can be utilized to grow new, sustainable plants. The circular bioeconomy is a virtuous cycle that we can amplify by influencing consumer trends and corporate missions.
A circular bioeconomy reduces waste and pollution, like plastics in our ocean, and utilizes fewer finite resources. It is better for the planet. A circular bioeconomy also empowers rural communities through new business opportunities and investment, based on the biomass that they produce.
As the leading organization promoting sustainable products derived from nature, the Plant Based Products Council promotes the circular bioeconomy wherever possible. Our strategies champion the creation of renewable products at market scale and we support policies that ensure those products become part of the circular bioeconomy. Taken together, these steps reduce carbon emissions, improve water quality, enrich our soil health, and curtail solid waste destined for landfills.
The circular bioeconomy is still in the early stages of implementation. You can help by promoting and using sustainable products derived from nature and then ensuring they are not simply sent to a landfill. You can also encourage businesses and communities to take advantage of sustainable, plant-based products and sustainable energy, which will ensure we leave a better earth for generations to come.
For more information, visit our friends at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.