A bio-economy leverages the potential of bioscience and biotechnology to address a plethora of issues, including supplying food, feed, wood products and furniture, paper, bio-based fabrics, chemicals, polymers, pharmaceuticals and energy for a growing population while protecting our natural resources.
A viable strategy for addressing global problems including food security and carbon emissions is the circular bioeconomy. The development of biomaterials and energy can support the energy-environment nexus and replace petroleum as the production feedstock, resulting in a lower carbon footprint and a cleaner environment.
What is Circular Bio-Economy?
A circular bio-economy (CBE) is dependent on biological resources.
Moving toward a climate and nature-positive economy entails switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, as well as from fossil-based materials to fossil-free alternatives for items like plastics, steel, concrete, and synthetic textiles. This has other advantageous effects on the environment in addition to reducing the effects of climate change. The use of novel renewable biobased materials that can replace and surpass carbon-intensive products is very necessary for a climate and nature-positive economy.
The Fossil-Based Economy (FBE) is being transformed by a Circular Bioeconomy (CBE) through the use of biomass as a feedstock for valuable chemicals and biofuels. Green technologies that are both effective and sustainable must be developed in order to attain CBE. Additionally, carbon waste/wastewater, greenhouse gas emissions, harm to ecosystems from the disposal, and depletion of natural resources should be minimized in order to retain the value of the product.
This series of procedures serves as the framework for the new CBE, which aims to create a net-zero-carbon society. Its conceptualization and implementation are still in their early stages.
The basic building block of the CBE is biomass carbon, which may be derived from any biodegradable organic source. The principal drivers include social, economic, and environmental factors.
The advantages of a circular bioeconomy include:
- a significantly reduced reliance on fossil fuels
- a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
- increased resource and eco-efficiency
- the valorization of waste and side products from a variety of sources, including agro-industrial aquaculture and fishery.
In order to produce valuable bioproducts, this notion emphasizes the concepts of recycling, reusing, remanufacturing and sustaining a sustainable manufacturing process. Because it has the ability to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly environment, the circular bioeconomy can therefore be seen as a low-carbon economy [Carus and Dammer 2018].
The bio-based circular economy, which closes the loop on natural resources including fresh or unprocessed resources, water, minerals, and carbon, uses one of the most important facilitation mechanisms called biorefining. It is a term used to describe sustainable bioprocesses that effectively use biomass resources to produce a range of commercially viable products and metabolites. Additionally, waste biorefinery draws just as much attention, if not more, than other waste management strategies [Mishra et al., 2019].
Bioprocesses that use waste materials to make biomaterials and biofuels can considerably reduce the need for fossil fuels as the production feedstock, preventing the depletion of all natural resources. By reducing carbon footprints-the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions caused by burning fossil fuels-this strategy not only maintains the energy-environment nexus but also safeguards the ecosystem [Li et al., 2018].
Additionally, these bioprocesses can be integrated with other management systems. For example, biofuels (such as biodiesel, bioethanol, biohydrogen and biogas) can be produced using a variety of bioprocesses and a large range of renewable feedstocks.
Waste biorefinery promoting a circular bioeconomy:
For decades, petroleum, often known as fossil fuel, has been the most crucial manufacturing feedstock for energy (such as transportation fuels) and synthetic materials (such as plastics and chemicals). They do, however, not regenerate and have environmentally hazardous qualities that contribute to climate change by releasing GHGs, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), into the atmosphere.
There have been several studies on carbon mitigation and adaptation since these environmental challenges have increased public awareness worldwide [NASA. Mitigation and adaptation]. A significant effort has been made to control carbon and reduce GHGs by switching from a petroleum refinery model to one that uses waste as the primary feedstock.
By moving away from a linear economy, waste biorefinery contributes to the development of a circular bioeconomy that is sustainable and based on the principles of recycling, reuse, remanufacture and maintenance.
In industrial uses like biodiesel and nutritional supplements, microalgae oil has become very popular [Tang et al., 2020]. Biodiesel made from microalgae has great qualities like low viscosity and represents a carbon-neutral renewable fuel that is good for the environment and ought to be utilised in place of fossil fuels.
Additionally, microalgae oil includes polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which can then be converted into dietary supplements for good health [Chia et al., 2018]. A more environmentally friendly and economically viable circular bioeconomy strategy is the valorisation of waste using microalgae bioprocessing.
It is appropriate to apply the use of fossil fuels as the production feedstock, ensuring an environmentally benign carbon flow, with the valorisation of waste or side streams into bioprocesses for the creation of value-added bioproducts such as biopolymers and biofuels. This strategy is known as a waste-as-a-value, waste-to-wealth or zero-waste plan and it would significantly contribute as a decent, environmentally friendly and reasonably priced trash disposal method.
Additionally, the environmentally favourable qualities of non-toxicity, biodegradability and biocompatibility of the created bio-based products encourage an eco-friendly campaign, thereby fostering a greener environment across the globe. The causes of many environmental issues, including climate change, pollution of the environment & water waste disposal and the depletion of natural resources, can then be shown.
The generation of bioenergy and biofuels from micro-organisms, which are independent of petroleum feedstock, has been developed to achieve energy security. Biofuels can be used for a variety of applications to control carbon and reduce GHG emissions (e.g., transportation fuels).
Therefore, the efforts of a circular bioeconomy will aid in rejuvenating good efficiency and prosperity over the course of a lifetime without concern for the economic effects of the environment, food or energy.
It is critical that the CBE (Circular Bioeconomy through the use of biomass as a feedstock for valuable chemicals and biofuels) frameworks be modified as soon as feasible to accommodate changing demands for the production of food, feed, and energy.
The promotion of CBE concepts is hampered by a lack of information, funding and resources. Therefore, a waste biorefinery-circular bioeconomy plan has a lot of promise for a sustainable, eco-friendly future and should be encouraged.
Developing new policies to support the CBE frameworks will also require more information in order to better integrate the supply and demand for biomass, bioenergy, and biofuels.
- Chia SR, Ong HC, Chew KW, Show PL, Phang S-M, Ling TC, Nagarajan D, Lee D-J, Chang J-S. Sustainable approaches for algae utilization in bioenergy production. Renew Energy. 2018;129:838–52.
- Ferreira JA, Agnihotri S, Taherzadeh MJ. Chapter 3—Waste biorefinery. In: Taherzadeh MJ, Bolton K, Wong J, Pandey A, editors. Sustainable resource recovery and zero waste approaches. The Netherlands: Elsevier; 2019. p. 35–52.
- Li S-Y, Ng IS, Chen PT, Chiang C-J, Chao Y-P. Biorefining of protein waste for the production of sustainable fuels and chemicals. Biotechnol Biofuels. 2018;11(1):256.
- Mishra S, Roy M, Mohanty K. Microalgal bioenergy production under zero-waste biorefinery approach: recent advances and future perspectives. Bioresour Technol. 2019;292:122008.
- NASA. Mitigation and adaptation | solutions—responding to climate change. 2019. https://climate.nasa.gov/solutions/adaptation-mitigation/. Accessed 27 Sept 2019.
- Tang DYY, Khoo KS, Chew KW, Tao Y, Ho S-H, Show PL. Potential utilization of bioproducts from microalgae for the quality enhancement of natural products. Bioresour Technol. 2020;304:122997.
Dr Yogita Deshmukh
Director (advisor) Research & Promotions Ganar Biofuels
Biochar Scientist and Researcher
Sustainable Biobrikets Private Limited