Shaping the Transition to a Sustainable, Biobased Economy

By Leslie Maliepaard

How exactly does one adopt a biobased economy where the world has seamlessly undergone a paradigm shift toward sustainability? I’m a person accustomed to change and one who is always in pursuit of improving systems that will amplify sustainability, so this is a question that’s often on my mind.

If there was a simple answer then we would have already undertaken this transition 10 years ago. The challenge lies in the fact that there are two economic models that co-exist, side by side. On the one hand we have the dominant fossil-economy and on the other, the emerging biobased economy. 

Transitioning from the dominant model to the emerging biobased model is where we need to be focusing our attention on. How do we undergo this paradigm shift toward sustainability whilst at the same time meeting long-term profitability goals and ensuring the equivalent output that the old economic model promises?

I’ve attended a number of bioeconomy events in the past and I’ve often had a giggle because sometimes even people who are trying to make progress in this sector can’t even define what bioeconomy is. So before we dive into understanding the key drivers let’s get to grips with what the biobased economy is all about.

Climate change and global environmental damage is at an all time high. With the over-exploitation of fossil-based raw materials, our natural planetary resources are diminishing drastically. We cannot continue on this trajectory as we are heading toward a cliff. The only way to turn this around is to adopt a new sort of economy that relies on renewable resources. 

Let’s take a look at what exactly the bioeconomy is? To distill it into my own words:

  1. With sustainability and circularity at its core, the biobased economy focuses on replacing fossil fuel resources with renewable bio based resources. 
  2. Through the use of renewable raw materials the bioeconomy drives the advancement of our industries, the modernisation of our primary production systems, as well as increasing the protection of the environment and its biodiversity.
  3. The bioeconomy exists both for land and marine ecosystems and covers all sectors that rely on biological resources such as biomass, animals, plants, micro-organisms as well as organic waste.


Now that we know a little more about bioeconomy, what could be more important than the strategy plan? I believe the transition toward it is key. And often this is the hardest part. How do we get there?  Because, no amount of planning and strategy will achieve anything if we aren’t actually taking micro steps toward the end goal.

Since it is such a huge topic, I’ll touch on it lightly and perhaps in blog posts to come I can dive deeper into the specifics. 

What are the steps governments and businesses could be taking to sustainably transition toward a bio based economy?

  1. Policy that provides a regulatory framework: 
    a) The development of incentives in the form of subsidies for businesses to encourage them to move toward using bio based resources;  
    b) Regulation: the legal framework needs to be adapted and changed for areas such as construction,  waste management and the development of new renewable raw material resources.
  2. The Public sector as a role model: The public sector has an opportunity to embrace sustainability by improving the supply chain and ensuring that bio based products are adopted and the green-tech industry is supported.
  3. Driving Awareness: Awareness-raising initiatives will provide companies and consumers with information on climate protection, and renewable raw materials. 
  4. Standardisation : The standardisation process of bio based products needs to accelerate. By removing barriers-to-market entry, more bio based products will become available to consumers. 
  5. Education: There is a big opportunity to improve and develop educational structures and processes on the topic of bioeconomy. 
  6. Digitisation: Digital and communication technologies play a big part in product design. When we optimise product development we minimise waste.

We are all facing a seismic paradigm shift toward a sustainable bioeconomy. I think the key drivers of this paradigm shift for this entail:

  1. The development of new green technologies for a bio based economy 
  2. Adopting holistic frameworks that encompass sustainability standards, initiatives and schemes 
  3. Complying with sustainable policies and procedures that promote the adoption of biobased products and practices. 


It’s a tall order but with the right partner telling your sustainability story, now more than ever I believe that the communication services and awareness raising work we are doing at The Planet Calls can help businesses build strengths and capabilities to drive sales and achieve sustainable business growth. 


Read our BIOECONOMY Report – WHAT ACTIONS ARE REQUIRED TO ENCOURAGE BIOECONOMIES? We take a closer look at what Bioeconomy actually is and how it can benefit society.

Now is the time to hit that reset button. Sustainable is the New Black.


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