In 2020, “global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass”(1) while living biomass of plant origin, i.e. the mass of all organic matter of plant origin, is literally under our feet. A great paradox when we know plant biomass offers invaluable potential to solve economic, social, and environmental challenges, by creating value from biomass wastes and byproducts and making them available for new purposes, not only in bioenergy but also in biomolecules, bio-based materials, food ingredients…
(1) Elhacham, E., Ben-Uri, L., Grozovski, J. et al. Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass. Nature 588, 442–444 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-3010-5
Plant biomass valorisation presents numerous advantages and opportunities as it is:
- Sustainable: the valorisation of plant biomass recycles an abundantly available resource which reduces the use of other natural resources
- Local: having a local approach decreases costs, curbs carbon footprint, and fosters innovation
- Versatile: plant biomass comes from multiple organic sources and various sectors.
But several challenges need to be unlocked:
- Holistic approach: every stakeholder on the value chain should be included to consider the multiple uses of a product resulting from plant biomass.
- From sourcing to processing: bridges must be built between the sourcing and the processing of plant biomass, and farmers are definitely key actors, as they both provide plant biomass and use the final transformed product.
- Low-tech: plant biomass solutions should be robust and replicable.
- Uses conflict: plant biomass solutions have to be innovative while not conflicting with other uses, such as food.
- Raise public awareness: society and policymakers need to be aware of the value and the sustainability of biomass valorisation. This valorisation can provide training and working opportunities, particularly for youth.
How can we co-construct sustainable socio-economic activities regarding plant biomass valorisation that raise public awareness and provide work opportunities, in particular for local youth, through low-tech solutions?
How the valorisation of plant biomass can generate positive social, environmental, and economic impacts?
How to raise policy makers and public awareness of the benefits and opportunities?
How can the valorisation of plant biomass be a source of wealth and local development by creating sustainable and inclusive jobs to meet the need for local expertise?
How can we optimise methods to move towards frugal, robust, replicable, sustainable, in other words, low-tech processes?
All applicants are welcome: we are looking for expertise from all kinds of actors. News solutions and existing ones to reinforce are both relevant.
At every step of the process, many initiatives have been launched to valorise plant biomass, but they rarely make life cycle assessments and implement impact measures to make sure the whole process has a greater impact on the environment, the economy, and people. Moreover, the replicability of the solutions can be a real problem when innovative techniques have to be applied to a local context that does not have the technical and economic means to implement them.
Whatever your role is in the plant biomass valorisation process, we need your expertise to think and co-construct solutions to develop the bioeconomy.
By applying to The Future Of Sustainable Biomass Valorisation, you are invited to collaborate with a selection of experts in order to move towards sustainable plant biomass valorisation. The best collaborative projects that emerge will be offered technical and operational support.