Developing a Sustainable and Circular Bio-Based Economy in EU: By Partnering Across Sectors, Upscaling and Using New Knowledge Faster, and For the Benefit of Climate, Environment & Biodiversity, and People & Business

Lene Lange*, Kevin O. Connor, Sigurjon Arason, Uffe Bundgård-Jørgensen, Antonella Canalis, Dirk Carrez, Joe Gallagher, Niels Gøtke, Christian Huyghe, Bruno Jarry, Pilar Llorente, Mariya Marinova, Ligia O. Martins, Philippe Mengal, Paola Paiano, Calliope Panoutsou, Ligia Rodrigues, Dagmar B. Stengel, Yvonne van der Meer, Helena Vieira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


This paper gives an overview of development of the EU-bioeconomy, 2014–2020. The Vision of the new Circular Bio-based Economy, CBE is presented: Unlocking the full potential of all types of sustainably sourced biomass, crop residues, industrial side-streams, and wastes by transforming it into value-added products. The resulting product portfolio consists of a wide spectrum of value-added products, addressing societal and consumer needs. Food and feed, bio-based chemicals, materials, health-promoting products; and bio-based fuels. The pillars of CBE are described, including biotechnology, microbial production, enzyme technology, green chemistry, integrated physical/chemical processing, policies, conducive framework conditions and public private partnerships. Drivers of CBE are analyzed: Biomass supply, biorefineries, value chain clusters, rural development, farmers, foresters and mariners; urgent need for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and stopping biodiversity loss. Improved framework conditions can be drivers but also obstacles if not updated to the era of circularity. Key figures, across the entire BBI-JU project portfolio (2014–2020) are provided, including expansion into biomass feedstocks, terrestrial and aquatic, and an impressive broadening of bio-based product portfolio, including higher-value, health-promoting products for man, animal, plants and soil. Parallel to this, diversification of industrial segments and types of funding instruments developed, reflecting industrial needs and academic research involvement. Impact assessment is highlighted. A number of specific recommendations are given; e.g., including international win/win CBE-collaborations, as e.g., expanding African EU collaboration into CBE. In contrast to fossil resources biological resources are found worldwide. In its outset, circular bio-based economy, can be implemented all over, in a just manner, not the least stimulating rural development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number619066
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2021


  • Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU)
  • Bio-based Economy (CBE)
  • Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC)
  • Circular
  • bio-based products
  • biorefinery technologies
  • microbial production
  • side-streams wastes
  • upgrading
  • Circular Bio-based Economy (CBE)
  • wastes
  • side-streams &amp

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