- Circular Bioeconomy
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North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of 18 million, is central to the most densely populated area in Europe and is Germany's No.1 industrial region. The strongest industrial sectors of North Rhine-Westphalia are construction, metal industries, machinery and the chemical industries. The construction industry, especially, has high potential to move towards the bioeconomy through timber use, but the chemical and biotechnology industries could also be transformed by better incorporating local bio-based resources and new technologies.
About a quarter of the land area (27%) is forest. The forest and wood cluster is a main pillar of the bioeconomy in North Rhine-Westphalia. Its contribution to climate protection amounts to 18 million ton CO2 per year. Entrepreneurs in North Rhine-Westphalia have access to more or less equal resources from forest, agricultural and urban waste biomass. There is about 0,79 ton of biomass available for every citizen, this corresponds to roughly one-twentieth of the materials consumed in the North Rhine-Westphalian economy.
The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia is following the recommendations of the bioeconomy strategy of the European Union and the German government. The Bioeconomy Strategy of NRW is currently under revision.
North Rhine-Westphalia has a strong innovation profile within the forest bioeconomy start-up ecosystem, most start-ups function in the biotech and wood processing sectors.
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is one of Europe's leading locations for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and energy: this makes it particularly important to focus on how to transform a society based on fossil fuels into one which is based on renewable resources. The federal state of NRW sees high potential in the bioeconomy and is therefore following the recommendations of the bioeconomy strategy of the European Union and the German government. For the NRW government, the development of a bioeconomy is a strategic instrument to promote the transformation of the NRW economy into a sustainable economy.
The Bioeconomy Strategy of NRW is under preparation. The forest-based bioeconomy sector plays a main role for sustainable construction, biobased materials, and renewable energy. The multiple use of wood fibres and wood products in the circular economy plays a main role to expand the contribution of the forest-based sector to climate protection and sustainability. Decentral biorefinery concepts based on by products of the paper and sawmill sector as well as the use of wood for biotechnical applications are also new perspectives for the forest and wood cluster in the bioeconomy.
The Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) of North Rhine-Westphalia 2014 -2020 emphasises that in forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, food security and water protection have priority over the cultivation of technically usable renewable raw materials. Since agricultural and forestry land in NRW is limited, the available renewable raw materials should first be used as materials and then as energy (cascade use) and a corresponding circular economy should be established. The focus, then, is on which sustainable concepts of integrated biorefinery, i.e. the material and energetic (cascade) use of biomass, can be realised. Concepts for the use of large quantities of renewable raw materials must also address logistical challenges. The strategy focuses on the following eight lead markets.
The North Rhine-Westphalian forest bioeconomy ecosystem can be grouped into ten different categories.