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What is a Bioeconomy?
Blog...What is a Bioeconomy?

What is a Bioeconomy?

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seedlings growing out of dirt
In this article, we’ll explain what a bioeconomy is, the pros and cons, examples of jobs and products, the differences between a bioeconomy and a circular economy, and how to switch to a bioeconomy.
seedlings growing out of dirt

People in countries across the world are making an effort to change their day-to-day actions to be more environmentally friendly to curb emissions and protect future generations, but the human species can’t do it all alone – both local and federal governments need to make an effort to instill a bioeconomy as well.

A bioeconomy refers to the type of economic system which utilizes biological resources to help produce goods and services – meaning it can help both the planet and long-term profitability via resource conservation.

In this article, we’ll explain what a bioeconomy is, what the pros and cons of a bioeconomy are, examples of jobs and products, the main differences between a bioeconomy and a circular economy, and how we can effectively make the switch to a bioeconomy.

​​What is the definition of a bioeconomy?

A bioeconomy is the method of utilizing biological resources, such as biotechnology and biomass, to create more eco-friendly products and services across each area in the economic system to ultimately develop a more sustainable economy.

Sustainable development is becoming increasingly imperative in the midst of climate change, making the implementation of a bioeconomy especially important in order to successfully transition to an overall more sustainable society.
shirt, gasoline pump, wheat, chemicals, and rubber ducky cartoon

Despite its potential benefits, a bioeconomy is still a relatively recent tactic – as it only started to take off in 2010 after the “National Research Strategy BioEconomy 2030” was published by the German government. As of now, via Horizon 2020, the EU has continued to research the potential benefits of a bioeconomy and ways in which countries around the world could utilize this tactic to promote greater sustainability. 

Notable features of a bioeconomy include:

  • Improved Management & Conservation of Resources – A bioeconomy will prioritize the use of sustainable materials to promote resource conservation, which ultimately helps to benefit not only the economy but the ecosystems from which non-renewable materials are usually extracted from. 
  • Development of Biotechnology – A successful bioeconomy is always looking to “level up” – meaning that new technologies and production processes are paramount to the effective implementation of a bioeconomy. 
  • More Diverse in Nature – One of the best parts about a bioeconomy is that it not only will help to protect the planet, but can help to create more economic diversity – such as with new jobs to help practice sustainable agriculture or monitor new pieces of biotechnology. 
  • Mitigating the Use of Fossil Fuels – A bioeconomy is built upon sustainability, meaning that seeking to reduce the use of polluting substances such as fossil fuels is a hallmark trait for any bioeconomy. 

👉 Ultimately, a bioeconomy is a method to help encourage the protocols necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find new ways to source sustainable materials – as both are necessary to curb climate change once and for all.

apples and leaves on the ground

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a bioeconomy?

There are several pros and cons to the development and utilization of a bioeconomy – such as promoting sustainability on an economic scale as well as the struggle to ethically and ecologically proceed with the materials and jobs needed to sustain a bioeconomy.

A bioeconomy can help do wonders when it comes to emission reductions and overall resource conservation, but it can also prove challenging to adhere to the principles of a bioeconomy given the current supply and demand within our growing population.
take, make, use, recycle thumbnail

The pros of a bioeconomy include:

  • Improved Food Security – A bioeconomy will encourage sustainable agriculture practices, which in turn can help society grow accustomed to the constraints of food production in the midst of climate change and adapt accordingly.
  • Development of Green Jobs – From sustainable agriculture to managing and monitoring biotechnology, the implementation of a bioeconomy can help to create more green jobs and climate jobs.
  • Protect Wildlife – A bioeconomy seeks to conserve valuable resources often found in habitats which wildlife depend on, meaning that the development of a bioeconomy indirect helps to safeguard wildlife.
  • Promote the Use of Renewable Energy – A bioeconomy will seek to replace non-renewable resources with renewable ones – such as through the use of solar or wind energy. 
  • Encourage Overall Greater Sustainability – Businesses and citizens alike are bound to discover a newfound interest and incentive to implement sustainable practices in their routines if surrounded by a bioeconomy. 

The cons of a bioeconomy include:

  • Growing Population Means a Rising Demand for Food – As the global population is projected to hit 8.5 billion by 2030, it will become increasingly challenging to sustainably and ethically source food for the growing population.
  • Challenges in Widespread Implementation – There is no doubt that a bioeconomy can help to reduce the ecological impact of our actions, but it will be challenging to get all countries involved and to utilize the benefits of a bioeconomy to the same extent. This means that while the success of bioeconomy can prove valuable in a local sense, it is bound to vary and could yield inconsistent results for global emission reductions. 
  • Slow Development – According to the NIH, one of the major disadvantages of developing a bioeconomy is that it takes a copious amount of effort and time to effectively make the transition to a bioeconomy. This is troubling seeing as the world needs more rapid action to curb emissions to prevent global temperatures from rising out of control.

 👉 It is important to note that it is ultimately worthwhile to develop a bioeconomy regardless of the potential challenges – seeing as a bioeconomy can help to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems, both of which can help to fight climate change.

various fruits and veggies

What are some examples of bioeconomy jobs and bioeconomy products?

Some examples of bioeconomy jobs include roles in research and development for how to harvest and use renewable energy while some examples of bioeconomy products include biodegradable materials, plastics, or resources used to help sustain climate smart and eco-friendly agricultural practices.

Both bioeconomy jobs and products are essential to help the development of bioeconomies.

Examples of jobs under a bioeconomy include:

  • Jobs which help to promote the importance of mitigating deforestation and conserving non-renewable resources;
  • Jobs to help develop and monitor various biotechnologies;
  • Jobs dedicated to finding new ways to harvest and utilize renewable energy resources.

Examples of products under a bioeconomy include:

  • The use of biodegradable products or materials, such as a konjac sponge for washing your fash instead of an electric brush;
  • Wood-based furniture that mitigates the use of plastic or other non-renewable materials;
  • Biofuels which are being developed to help decarbonize the aviation industry;
  • Fashion and apparel items which make use of ethically sourced and ecological materials.

 👉 Both jobs and products developed under the ideals of a bioeconomy are essential to spread awareness and effectively promote long-term sustainable practices.

open area with pollution

What is the main difference between a bioeconomy and a circular economy?

The main difference between a bioeconomy and a circular economy is that a bioeconomy strives to use more renewable resources to help the development of sustainable technology and therefore boost the economy in an ecological way – whereas a circular economy seeks to use natural resources via the creation of a closed loop system.

The main goal of a circular economy is to mitigate the excessive use of natural resources, whereas a bioeconomy seeks to find alternatives to the current resources we’re consuming.

Additional protocols under a circular economy include:

  • Avoiding the consumption of non-renewable resources
  • Vouching for eco-friendly designs such as with green infrastructure
  • Helping to develop a more robust local economy in a sustainable manner
  • Advocating for the "3R" principle: to reduce, reuse, and recycle

However, what differentiates a bioeconomy from a circular economy is that a bioeconomy has the advantage of helping to rectify global issues such as by working to ensure food security, protecting fragile water systems, creating green jobs, and reducing emissions and the current dependence on fossil fuels.

On the other hand, a circular economy is more focused on reducing waste and the environmental impact created by a product over the course of its lifecycle. 

Regardless of their varying approaches and goals, it is best to incorporate ideals of both a circular economy and a bioeconomy – as when the ideals of both these economies are implemented, it can help to further pontificate the importance of resource conservation and ethical consumption. In other words, the goals of both a circular economy and a bioeconomy are interconnected, and when practiced together – can prove unstoppable in the fight against climate change and the development of more sustainable economies. 

 👉 Ultimately, a bioeconomy is more focused on promoting the development and use of clean energy to help reduce emissions while simultaneously boosting the economy – while a circular economy aims to work with the natural resources we already have.

eco-friendly materials

How can we switch to a bioeconomy?

We have the choice to transition to the use of a bioeconomy, but it will require local economies or other entities willing to participate to secure a reliable alternative energy source and to develop sustainable production and consumption practices.

Over 50 countries and organizations worldwide are looking to transition to the use of a bioeconomy.

Here are some prerequisites to consider when seeking to shift to the use of a bioeconomy:

  • Understand how food is consumed and thrown away in the local area;
  • Determine which carbon intensive materials are most consumed and used to produce everyday products;
  • Be prepared to encourage the use of more sustainable alternatives such as biofuels, bioplastics, and biopharmaceuticals;
  • Encourage local businesses to collaborate with their stakeholders on the importance and business benefits of a bioeconomy;
  • Aim to develop new international agreements to further spread the development of a current or  future bioeconomy;
  • Decide which research and development will prove most valuable for the local area seeking to transition to the use of a bioeconomy. For example, if this potential bioeconomy is near the equator – utilizing the use of solar energy may prove most efficacious. 

Overall, a bioeconomy is essential in addition to the development of a circular economy seeing as a bioeconomy prioritizes biodiversity, wildlife, and ecosystems – all of which are pivotal to protect in the midst of global warming. 

The simultaneous need and desire for economic growth is often what keeps both local and federal governments from transitioning to the use of a bioeconomy, but in reality – it can help to drive economic growth while also creating a healthier atmosphere for our planet, people, and wildlife.

What About Greenly?

If reading this article about what a bioeconomy is and why it is important has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be challenging to make the necessary everyday choices needed to help tackle climate change, such as how to align your business with the principles of a bioeconomy – but don’t worry, Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels in your own company. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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