Demand for raw materials is increasing exponentially and there is a risk of resource depletion. In the last 100 years, the world's population has started using 34 times more materials, 27 times more minerals, 12 times more fossil fuels and 3.6 times more biomass. Demand for raw materials will increase further in the coming years.
The circular economy offers special opportunities for our prosperity and economy if we can reduce the use of primary raw materials and increase their reuse without sacrificing our comfort or prosperity. However, the transformation into a low-carbon and circular economy in 2050 requires smart use of raw materials, energy, water, space, food, and close circuits as much as possible.
The bioeconomy is estimated to amount to 2.1 trillion euros and representing over 18.3 million jobs. This number involves also the more ‘traditional’ bioeconomy sectors, like agro-food and paper. In the years to come, the bioeconomy is expected to rapidly expand by replacing nonbiobased products by biobased alternatives. When excluding the traditionally biobased industries, like food, beverage, tobacco, forestry and agriculture, the ‘biobased economy’ represents €600 billion euro and 3.2 million jobs.
The chemical sector has expressed its ambition to be 100% circular by 2040. The chemical sector currently represents from only 5% of the biobased economy and 1% of biofuels. However, given the fact that the other sectors are significantly more biobased and offer less potential for additional use of biobased feedstocks, it is in particular for biobased chemicals and biofuels that there is significant potential for biobased growth.