A chemicals and materials industry based on fossil inputs extracted from the geosphere is inherently unsustainable and can never achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions.
A transition to alternative raw materials is required and the opportunity exists to expand the production of chemicals and materials based on the use of sustainable biomass resource.
However the legitimacy of a biobased economy has been widely questioned, with concerns raised over the impact on food prices, loss of biodiversity and the actual extent of greenhouse gas emission reductions.
While these are genuine concerns, they are also stifling innovation and inhibiting the development of sustainable biobased products. It should be recognised that the global issues of over consumption and resulting climate change cannot be resolved by simply switching one type of raw material for another. The approach to transition must be wider and based on a re-engineering of the way the economy and society approaches manufacturing and the consumption of products.
Here we offer a perspective on the long-term vision and the steps required for a transition to a sustainable biobased products economy.
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