A Bio-based economy for sustainable development


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To remain competitive and grow, companies operating in volatile environment (Political/Economical/Social/Ecological) must seek out raw materials that stabilize their cost base and bring financial certainty and at the same time provide scope for building a competitive advantage in the market space .

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A Bio-based economy for sustainable development

  1. 1. September, 2011 Gearing India towards SustainabilityGreentechnology Powering India through renewables
  2. 2. PERSPECTIVE a BIO BASED ECONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT The industrial revolution has been very successful Improvement in the productivity of agriculture in providing us with an incredible number of and industrial processes by reduction of emissions consumer goods. This in many cases has been at a to air and water will enhance environmental Bedanga Bordoloi high cost to nature and to our natural resource sustainability. Corporate Sustainability base. Climate change and diminishing resources, A recent WWF report concludes that the full such as oil, phosphate and other commodities, are climate change mitigation potential of industrial Advisor driving a need to change the ways of production. biotechnology ranges between 1 billion and 2.5 Novozymes The need to be more energy and material efficient billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030, is not dictated by environmental concerns alone, compared with a scenario in which no industrial but rather by the threat to the supplies of these biotechnology applications are available. basic resources. Today the cost of compliance and Chemical companies are striving to embrace bio- risk of liabilities is increasing and countries across based production to ensure their long-term the world have recognized the need for sustainability, as volatile cost, performance sustainable solutions. Moreover, push for demands and sustainability push from the market sustainable solutions by various NGOs is becoming and regulators are fast affecting their bottom increasingly common. With the new digital media line. To remain competitive and grow, companies making the world more transparent, the risks for must seek out raw materials that stabilize their brand and reputation are also on the rise. All cost base and bring financial certainty. The these trends suggest the need to rethink the way development and stimulation of new industries in the business and economy runs. A bio-based the bio-based economy will help create new jobs economy that relies on biotechnology and bio- and thus positively impact the society at large. based materials to shape sustainable products has the potential to carve a lasting solution. This will The transition from the present petrochemical- produce the next wave of innovation in products based industry to the bio-based economy is not and services across a range of economic activities easy. The need for transition is driven by the and transform the way people produce and convergence of a number of global and local consume in the coming decades. sustainability pull and push factors. Today, biotechnology is helping shape a new bio- Sustainability Push based economy comprising of a wide range of - Concerns over the sustainability of an economy products and services consumed by us in our daily built on non-renewable resources lives. From a macro-economic perspective, this - The deterioration of natural biodiversity entails a set of economic activities relating to the innovation, development, production and use of - Higher costs of fossil fuels biological products and processes that will serve - Security for supply of raw material for different the world in a manner that they would no longer industries USDAgovs Flickr Photostream be wholly dependent on fossil fuels for energy and - CO2 reduction and industrial raw materials. This new bio-based climate change economy will have major socio-economic debates implications for the future society and major industries like agri-business, petroleum, timber, - Increasing pulp and paper etc. All these industries will population benefit significantly with the development of this - Food supply bio-based economy. Infact the impacts are constraint expected to have a spillover effect across several sectors. Its impact on the health care sector would - Demand for be by way of development of innovative health reversing the rapidly bio-solutions and reduction of healthcare cost. increasing healthcare costs22 SUSTAINABILITY OUTLOOK
  3. 3. Sustainability Pull and helps to innovate on new process pathways - Phenomenal scientific and technological to develop sustainable products. Bio-refineries advances in the Life Sciences can transform biomass derived from renewable raw materials into a wide range of sustainable - Innovation budgets on rise commodities such as bio-ethanol, bio-plastics, - Increases in energy demand, especially if bio-chemicals and ingredients for different combined with measures to reduce industries. Biofuels produced will have greenhouse gases, could create large markets significantly lower impact on the life cycle scale. for bio-fuels Agriculture would become more sustainable with the extensive use of local organic fertilizers - Need for social and demographic development instead of synthetic ones. These organic fertilizers, - Eco-conscious consumers the by-product of bio-fuel production, will - Increasing per-capita income provide a number of benefits compared to synthetic fertilizers. Waste management industry - Rise in regulatory expectation will change from a purely waste collecting service To remain Bio-based economy and its impacts to a biomass production industry and this will incompetitive and The development of a bio-economy will affect a turn catalyze business opportunities as well as environmental opportunities. Biowaste is notgrow, companies number of critical sustainability (environmental, simply left to degrade, but is refined into a social and economic) issues and create newmust seek out raw opportunities in these domains. number of high-value products and thus thematerials that nutrient run-off from waste is partly solved. Environmental Impactsstabilize their cost Societal Impacts Bio-based economy will depend on biotechnology Economic development of rural areas is morebase and bring that helps to develop useful processes and easily achievable in a sustainable bio-based products based on microbial, plant or animalfinancial certainity cells, or their isolated enzymes, as catalysts. The economy. Bio-based economy would create a use of biocatalysts increases industry efficiency number of jobs during its development and jurvetsons Flickr Photostream SUSTAINABILITY OUTLOOK 23
  4. 4. Bio-basedeconomy wouldcreate a number ofjobs during its knowledge in doing so would become a valuable feedstock supplies, research and development,development and export product. The local character of bio- agriculture, the environment, and trade. All this isknowledge in economic solutions creates the opportunity for only possible if there is ongoing dedication and producing local products: fuels, food, materials, commitment of all stakeholders.doing so would etc.,the safety and quality of which is a benefitbecome a valuable for future society. Bio-economy will impact the health sector by catalyzing low-cost healthexport product solutions. Economic Impacts The economic situation may be stabilized and improved if the industries become energy efficient and independent, and the export of the concept and expertise in developing bio-based solutions may become a new high-value product, improving the GDP .The possibility for new products, new services and expertise in resource efficiency will further add value to the economy. Conclusion The transition to bio-economy is already underway in many parts of the world, fuelled by massive investments and new policy measures. The author Mr. Bedanga Bordoloi is the Corporate Bio-based economy offers India a unique opportunity to leverage its rich endowment in Sustainability Advisor with Novozymes A/s biological and human resources for sustainable -a biotech-based company, headquartered in development. Harnessing the potential of bio- Denmark. The views expressed in this article are economy will require coordinated policy action solely those of the author, and do not necessarily by governments to reap the benefits of the bio- technology revolution. Moreover these policies reflect those of the organization in which the need to be coherent across many sectors, such as author is working or had worked previously. climate action, energy security, renewable24 SUSTAINABILITY OUTLOOK