Spring newsletter sustainability

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Spring newsletter sustainability

  1. 1. NNFCC The UK’s National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials Newsletter 24 Spring 2012 Sustainability Special IssueUHow sustainable are bioplastics?The global market for bioplastics is expected to triple by 2015 to be worth more than $2.9 billion butmanufacturers and brands are increasingly being judged on how they manage the land. nsustainable sources of plastics, but what impact will the sustainable resources. bioenergy and biofuels are growing market have on land use fast becoming obsolete in dynamics around the globe? Using conservative estimates wethe UK and across Europe. project that a little over 45 per cent Socially and environmentally of land available for sustainableEven sustainable sources are aware businesses understand cultivation will remain oncefeeling the pinch, as tighter that we must manage the land biofuels, bioenergy and bioplasticsregulations usher in a new era, appropriately, prioritising what markets are accounted for.where only the most sustainable remains after land needed for food,energy and fuels can benefit from However, under more intensive feed and ecosystem services havegovernment subsidies. growth in demand for biofuels, been removed from the equation.But what is driving the bioplastics bioenergy and bioplastics we couldmarket towards more sustainable Estimates suggest this will leave exceed the amount of availablepractices and sources of biomass? between 250 and 800 million land by more than 12 per cent. hectares of ‘sustainable’ landUnlike bioenergy and biofuels we So it has never been more crucial available for other uses.have no renewable alternative to to find ways to sustainably usebioplastics but also no mandated If we compare this to the expected the ground beneath our feet.requirements for sustainability. demand for bioplastics by 2050 Thankfully there are solutions andEvidence shows that bioplastics this seems like a drop in the ocean. in this newsletter you will discoversignificantly reduce greenhouse gas However, bioenergy and biofuels some of the innovative waysemissions compared to oil-derived will also be competing for these industry is tackling this problem.
  2. 2. L 1200Land use availability; 2030-2050 and availability for biomass crops is not Bioenergy and Biofuels only an issue of great future significance 1000 Bioplasticsit is already hugely important. Competitionfor land can drive unsustainable practices and Upper maximum amount of sustainable land Land required, millions of hectares 800it is in the best interests of the industry toaddress these issues now. 600Our scenarios show that we may exceedthe amount of sustainable land available by2050 if bioenergy, biofuels and bioplastics 400development is higher than expected. We Lower maximum amount of sustainable landmust learn to use our resources better, utilise 200more non-food feedstocks and push policiestowards sectors with limited alternatives. 0 Low Medium High Low Medium High BMaking more with less Biorefining: Model for a circular economy iorefineries represent a promising option for reducing land use requirements. By integrating fuel, feed and chemical production we can maximise resource use efficiency. A new report for the International EnergyU Agency written by agricultural, energy and chemical industry experts including NNFCC, highlights the growing importance of biorefineries to the low carbon economy. sing our existing resources better could go a long way to reducing land demands. We can minimise The report showed the market has reached a tippingcompetition for land by increasing its productivity. point and drop-in bio-based chemicals are on the brink of strong expansion. Platform bio-basedImproved breeding will increase the productivity of chemicals are also expected to grow substantiallycrops, particularly non-food crops, like willow and over the next five years, which should also be a hugeMiscanthus, which have been largely uncultivated. boost for the cost effective production of biofuels.An annual yield increase of just 2 per cent woulddouble production volumes by 2050 withoutany land expansion.We can also use these feedstocks better. For example,we can produce 3.1 tonnes of polyethylene from ahectare of brazilian sugar cane but the same hectareof brazilian sugar cane can make 7.9 tonnes ofpolylactic acid. Both are used in the production ofbioplastics that offer similar functionality. IEnergy markets could also benefit from adoptingmore efficient practices. In the UK, co-firing of coal Consultancy at NNFCCand wood is an efficient way to make electricity but nterested in sustainability? Thenthis may not be the best use of our resources. get in touch with us. We offer industry leading technical consultancyTechnological advances in fermentation, gasification including;and pyrolysis, have made it possible to convertbiomass into electricity, heat, fuels and chemicals at • Future market analysishigh conversion efficiencies. • Feedstock sustainability appraisalThis approach also allows us to make better use of • Life cycle assessment interpretationnon-food feedstocks such as wood, algae, household Contact Dr Adrian Higson, Head of Biorefining forrubbish and agricultural residues. more information.
  3. 3. FIndustry NewsUpdate on the Renewable Heat Incentive ollowing difficulties controlling Premium Payments (RHPP) for the Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) budget, domestic users is being extendedthe UK Government launched a with a new £25 million budget:consultation on interim cost control £10m for social landlords, £8mfor the Renewable Heat Incentive for community projects and(RHI). Cost control measures would £7m for extending the existingonly take affect in the unlikely scheme. But what impact this willevent that the RHI budget is spent have is unknown, as the schemewithin the next 12 months. The has been undersubscribed withconsultation closed on 23rd of April. only £4.8m of vouchers allocated to households so far. PotentialThe other major renewable heat applicants can pre-register withnews is that Renewable Heat the Energy Savings Trust now.FIs PEF the new PET? ollowing its agreement to work terephthalate (PET). Avantium either be recycled separately or in with Coca-Cola last year, argue that PEF offers improved existing PET streams.renewable chemicals company functionality over PET and canAvantium have now signed a joint Avantium opened its pilot plant inventure agreement to develop plant- the Netherlands in 2011, which hasbased polyethylene furanoate (PEF) the capacity to produce 40 tonnesbottles with Danone – makers of of PEF for application development.evian and volvic – and number two The company plans to beginin the global bottled water business. commercial production in 2015.The move is significant, not least of Avantium hopes to license its YXYall because it could herald a move technology to enable large scaleaway from widely-used polyethylene production and use of PEF.IInterviewDr Alena Buyx, Assistant Director at Nuffield Council on Bioethics n each issue of the NNFCC more could be done to ensure that Newsletter we feature an expert all biofuels imported into Europe Yes - there is biofuels?voice in the field of biorenewables (not just those supplied within the EU) offer greenhouse gas emissions the dangerwho will give their opinion on the savings throughout their whole that the use oflatest developments in the field. production lifecycle, from ‘field-to- comprehensiveIn this issue, we talk exclusively to tank’. A common methodology for sustainability criteria could unfairlyDr Alena Buyx from the Nuffield comprehensive life cycle assessment inhibit biofuels development,Council on Bioethics about the role is necessary. while other agricultural, energyof biofuels in global land use change. generation or trade practices We also recommend that research continue to operate in an and development of new biofuels unsustainable and unethical way.Can biofuels play a role in technologies such as advanced Setting similar sustainability criteriaWe believe that if they are produced breeding strategies and geneticmitigating climate change? for all comparable technologiesin an ethical and sustainable way, improvement of energy crops and products would constitutebiofuels could have a significant that need less land and fertiliser an important step towards therole to play in climate change to grow and could further reduce development of the wider policymitigation and energy security by greenhouse gas emissions, should context that is needed to tackle thereducing fossil fuel consumption. be incentivised. enormous challenges of the future.However, the extent to which theycurrently contribute to a reductionin greenhouse gas emissions Should sustainability principles To read the complete interview visitremains uncertain. We think that be applied to all related products the NNFCC website; www.nnfcc.co.uk/ and technologies, not just news/nuffield-interview
  4. 4. NNFCC Events NNFCC MembershipFollowing the success Join hundreds of otherof last year’s Life Cycle industry professionals andAssessment (LCA) become a member of NNFCC.workshop series,NNFCC and North Our new standard andEnergy are pleased business membershipto bring you two new training workshops packages offer you betterproviding you with insight into how LCA’s work and value than ever before.their applications. Receive access to our reports, monthly market reviews,The first workshop covers the principles of LCA, conference discounts, free consultancy, a place in ourrequirements, problems and issues. The second new business directory and much more.provides a ‘hands on’ opportunity to learn to carryout an LCA. The workshops can be taken together or Membership runs from 01 April 2012 to 31 Marchseparately. 2013, so sign up now to get the most benefit.For more information visit www.nnfcc.co.uk/events/ To join simply complete the online registration formnew-partnership-providing-lca-workshops at www.nnfcc.co.uk/join_form NNFCC The UK’s National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials NNFCC, Biocentre, Phone: +44 (0)1904 435182 York Science Park, Fax: +44 (0)1904 435345 Innovation Way, E: enquiries@nnfcc.co.uk Heslington, York, Web: www.nnfcc.co.uk YO10 5DG.

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