In the new publication, produced by the Ecosocial Forum Austria & Europe and its advisory board of agricultural and forestry scientists, current research projects on the topic of a circular bioeconomy are presented alongside a selection of innovative products and material utilisation options for biomass – from the field, from the forest and from water.
The societal challenges have increasingly entered people’s awareness due to the current crises – from the noticeable consequences of climate change to the energy and raw materials crisis influenced by the war in Ukraine. In order to be able to meet the needs of a growing population in the future, a rethink is necessary.
The goal is clear: we must move away from a linear economy towards more circular economy and sustainable bioeconomy. The path to this goal should be taken with renewable raw materials from agricultural and forestry production instead of fossil resources (e.g. natural gas or oil). Oil and gas, as well as wasteful use of limited resources, are simply no longer sustainable if we want to ensure a future worth living for future generations. However, not all problems are automatically solved just because we design our products to be recyclable in the future and manufacture them from renewable raw materials. Science agrees that there is not enough land available on our planet for our current lifestyle. So we must first ask ourselves the question: “Do I really need this?”. Subsequently, a responsible balance is needed between the various demands on the land that can be used for agriculture and forestry: from food, fodder, valuable material and energy production to social and ecological demands such as use as living space, recreational space and habitat for flora and fauna and thus the necessary biodiversity.
As users of biomass, we are challenged to develop coordinated production and utilisation concepts, which put value on the extracted raw material along the entire value chain as efficiently and resource-conservingly as possible and to maintain it in a usable state for as long as possible – all the way to energy recovery as the last step of the cycle. For in the sense of the circular economy, it is important to include the bioenergy sector from the very beginning. In order to achieve these goals, intelligent technological approaches and stronger networking of the individual utilisation steps are required.