Two New Graphics on Bio-based and Circular Economy

nova-Institute’s contribution to the debate

The first figure is nova-Institute’s updated contribution to the debate on Bio-based and Circular Economy by offering an illustration that for the first time integrates all bio-based streams fully into the Circular Economy. Some of the currently popular graphs that describe the future Circular Economy differentiate for example between cycles of biological materials and technical materials (Ellen MacArthur 2013), which is not an accurate depiction of actual resource flows. For that reason, our illustration includes all kinds of material streams and shows all different utilization routes belonging to a Circular Economy. Organic recycling (= biodegradation) and even the capture and utilization of CO2 from industrial processes or the atmosphere are included to provide a truly Comprehensive Concept of Circular Economy. The updated graph even shows additional streams from energy recovery: Metals and minerals can be recycled after incineration and the electricity can be used to utilize CO2 emissions from the waste incineration to produce new materials.

The second figure is being published for the first time and it shows that Bio-based Economy is more than Circular Economy. Bio-based Economy introduces new chemicals, building-blocks and polymers with new functionalities. It enables the development of new process technologies such as industrial biotechnology and it delivers solutions for Green and Sustainable Chemistry. It is supposed to help mitigating climate change through the substitution of petrochemicals by materials with lower GHG emissions. It could bring new business opportunities, investment and employment to rural areas, foster regional development and support SMEs. And finally, the complete utilization of biomass could be optimized by new biorefinery concepts. The text boxes in the second figure highlight the advantages of Bio-based Economy in detail and show that these go far beyond the concept of Circular Economy.

Bio-based streams are part of the Circular Economy, but the Bio-based Economy itself goes far beyond the concept of Circular Economy.

You can find both graphics for download and free use at:

Source: nova-Institut GmbH, 2016-10-06.