We hope that you are enjoying a very positive start to 2018. It’s already shaping up to be a busy one, and although early days, potentially a year that delivers some major steps forward for the industry. Across the world we have seen moves against traditional plastic as public awareness of its damage, particularly in our oceans rises, a number of high profile companies are launching consumer products made from bio-based ingredients and some significant capital investments in facilities and pilot plant expansion are continuing.
All our challenges still remain, but there is a positivity about the industry at the moment. To learn more, we spoke to three experts – Emmanuel Koukios(Professor Emeritus, Organic Industries, National Technical University of Athens, Member, EC Bioeconomy Strategic Working Group (Brussels) and Founding Member, Greek Bioeconomy Forum), Jean-luc Dubois ( Catalysis, Processes, Renewables and Recycling Scientific Director at Arkema) and Dr Pattanathu Rahman(Course Leader for MSc Food Sci & Biotechnology, SL in Process Engineering and Biotechnology at Teesside University and Director of TeeGene Biotech Ltd.) for their thoughts on the year ahead. So over to our three wise men…
Where is the biggest opportunity for the bio-based economy?
Emmanuel Koukios (EK): Taking advantage of synergies with the circular and green economy trends. The explosive growth in all fields of biological sciences and technologies should be considered as a supply-side force of change. The most promising demand-side force converging with such a supply is the also explosive growth of environmental and sustainability concerns, expressed in the Circular and Green Economy trends. The greatest opportunity for a deployment of bio-economy consists in the synergy of these two forces. Missing this opportunity or, even worse, reversing it – e.g. by negative societal concerns for bio-based solutions – might be catastrophic for both sides.
Jean-luc Dubois (J-LD): The biggest opportunities are in products that deliver improved technical properties. This can cover all types of applications and products and biomass sources. The customers are more interested in buying performance rather than Green products.
Pattanathu Rahman (PR): Waste (e.g.: green waste, spent grains from breweries, bakery waste) and biomass surplus (ex: wool, plant materials, fruits and vegetable and agricultural residues) and their bioprocesses developments to convert them to a value-added product have a huge potential for innovation in the environment friendly & health related products.
Agriculture products and farming practices plays a key role in the sustainable bio-based economy. The global production of wool is approximately 1.1 million tons per year, but a large quantity of the wool is wasted annually. The role of sheep farming in sustainable bio-economy is not recognised very well. Raw wool can contain large amounts of surface impurities made up of wool wax and grease. Biosurfactant washing after microbial treatment improves the wool quality and smooth the surface.
Increasing number of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart diseases could be prevented by bio-based processes to replace the chemical intensive conventional technologies and age-old processes and practices in the manufacturing industries. Replacement of conventional processes and products derived big opportunity for bio-based economy. Similarly, entry of biosurfactant based insecticides control mosquito larvae, allows their consideration for the development of insecticides in the fight against malaria mosquitoes.
All these questions and much more will all be discussed at World Bio Markets 2018 in Amsterdam, 20-22 March, by experts speakers including Jean-luc Dubois plus Procter & Gamble, the European Commission, Patagonia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lego, Poyry and over 100 more. It’s THE event for the bio-based industry, so book your ticket now to pay the lowest possible rate. What is the biggest challenge the industry faces?
What is the biggest challenge the industry faces?
EK: The perils of fragmentation threaten the bio-based potential of change. Modern Industry, including the bio-based one, mainly follows the conventional schemes of organisation in sectors, branches and fields. The same applies to the bio-based academic, research and innovation activities, which are also dominated by a sector-by-sector approach. These arrangements lead to a highly fragmented landscape of change, thus reducing considerably the potential of bio-based solutions and other future, innovation-based applications. As the emergence of bio-economy is expected to radically transform the industrial landscape, fragmentation should be viewed as a major challenge, and a disease to be cured.
J-LD: Uncertainty on feedstock prices on a long term basis.
PR: Bio-based technology replacement for conventional chemical technologies are expensive to operate and affects the development of a profitable business models. National and international regulations to support and encourage the use of bio-based technologies and products are key factor. Shortage of highly skilled workers in the bio-based industry also affects industrial growth.
The levels of purity needed for biosurfactants in the industries in which they’re used is extremely high. Because of this, they can be very expensive. However, the methods we have of producing them, make it much more economical and cost efficient. It’s a very exciting technology with tremendous potential for applications in a range of industries.
What’s your favourite bio-based or sustainable product?
EK: Favouring hybrid bio-info products as catalysts of sociotechnical change. During periods of fast and radical technological change, hybridisation of novel products and services tends to be a vehicle for the introduction of new technologies in existing markets and industries. In the particular case of the emerging bio-economy, this trend is enhanced by the strong and flexible innovation powers of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), leading to a new generation of bio-info hybrid products; examples include bio-chips for healthcare, food balance, and quality monitoring purposes, 3D printing of organs and microbial systems, and bio-systems management tools.
J-LD: Monomers for performance products have at the same time the improved performance and a market price which is high enough to allow the appropriate process design.
PR: Biosurfactant is my favourite bio-based or sustainable product. It is a multifunctional biobased product to replace chemical surfactant. TeeGene targets the replacement of traditional synthetic surfactants and emulsifiers in cosmetics, soap formulations, healthcare, paints, household detergents, industrial and institutional cleaning, personal care, crop protection, oilfield, paints and coatings, textile, construction, food, leather, mine and mineral processing, pulp and paper and food processing industries. TeeGene’s biosurfactants that are manufactured in the lab are fully biodegradable with minimal impact on the environment. They have anti-microbial, and anti-aging properties that are suitable for cosmetic products and biotherapeutic agents.