Technological watch

Webinar Series Green Renewable Solutions 2023

Experts from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) invite you to participate in a series of webinars for the future of chemicals production, circular and plastics policy, bio-based polymers, carbon flows and advanced chemical recycling. The webinar series will be held in collaboration with nova-Institute, between April 11 and June 19, 2023. 

The costs for the whole series of five webinars are € 299,- 

The webinars will provide you a deep dive into market data as well as strategies for achieving fossil-free industries. They also provide opportunities for discussion about this topics.

Session 1Tuesday 11 April 2023 from 13:30-15:00 CET

Each presentation 30 Min + 15 Min discussion

Title: Technologies, Markets and Trends for Circular, bio-based and CO2-based Chemicals and PolymersModeration: Pauline Ruiz and Pia Skoczinski, nova-InstituteChallenges Towards a Circular Plastics Economy from a Chemical Perspective by Evelien Maaskant (WUR)For a successful transition towards a circular plastics economy it is crucial that unavoidable material losses during plastic recycling are compensated by renewable materials. The current market for biobased thermoplastic polymers is growing and new materials are being developed. Despite being very promising, the development of biobased/renewable polymers give rise to new challenges. This presentation will highlight some of the main challenges that are currently faced from a chemical perspective, and will provide insights in research performed by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research on how to overcome them. 

Latest Market Data and Trends on Bio-based and CO?-based Building Blocks and Polymers Worldwide by Pauline Ruiz and Pia Skoczinski (nova-Institute)Bio-based polymers are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 14% from 2022 to 2027. Some examples: Bio-based epoxy resin production is on the rise, PTT regained attractiveness after several years of constant capacities and PE and PP made from bio?based naphtha are being further established with growing volumes. Increased capacities for PLA are ongoing, after being sold out in 2019. Current and future expansions for bio?based polyamides as well as PHAs are on the horizon. And also, bio-based PET is getting back in the game.
Additionally, the use of CO2 as chemical feedstock for building blocks and polymers has been intensively diversified. Several successfully implemented technologies used at commercial level are in place and many more at the laboratory and pilot phase.  Besides the long-established use of CO2 for the synthesis of polycarbonates, also polyurethanes are based on it. The most notable biotechnological conversion pathway of a syngas produces ethanol at commercial scale. Additionally, high interest is also observed in CO2-based methanol and in CO2-based hydrocarbons, which can be used for fuel, chemical and polymers applications. A current total production capacity of these CO2-based products of ca. 1.3 Mt/a in 2022 is observed and a strong increase in capacity is expected by 2027.

Session 2 Monday 15 May – 13:30-15:00 h CET

Each presentation 30 Min + 15 Min discussion

Title: Global and European Carbon Flows & Biomass AvailabilityModeration: Edwin Hamoen, WURGlobal and European Carbon Flows by Ferdinand Kähler and Michael Carus (nova-Institute)Global and European Carbon Flows Compilation of supply and demand of fossil and renewable carbon on a global and European level. The presentation gives a comprehensive, detailed and updated carbon flow data. All data have been corroborated as best as currently possible by scientific publications, feedback from experts and additional research. Remaining gaps and differences are transparently depicted and explained as well as possible. Compared to previous reports on carbon flows. 

Biomass Availability for the materials transition by Wolter Elbersen (WUR)In the next decades biomass plays an increasingly important role in a sustainable circular economy. But this comes with a number of challenges in actually getting access to sufficient amounts of feedstock at the right quality at the right time at a viable cost. When should supply chains be local? Should biomass be commoditized? How to mitigate the seasonal fluctuations in biomass availability? This presentation will provide insights in how do deal with these issues.

The presentation will include:

  • Categorizing biomass types crops vs primary, secondary tertiary residues.
  • Circular biomass use – how to assess what applications are more circular than others including applications for chemicals and materials.
  • Sourcing first generation (food type) feedstocks vs second generation non-food lignocellulosic feedstocks.
  • Case studies of making feedstock available in a sustainable way
  • The role of commodities in making biomass available and providing security of supply
  • Minimizing impacts: reducing footprints, food security issues and maintaining soil quality.
Session 3 Tuesday 30 May from 13:30-15:00 h CET

Each presentation 30 Min + 15 Min discussion

Title: Biodegradability of Polymers and Plastics: State of Play and PoliciesModeration: Nicolas Hark (nova-Institute)Biodegradability of Polymers and Plastics: State of Play by Maarten van de ee (WUR)Biodegradability can be a desirable product characteristic; sometimes as a useful functional property, in other cases it may provide a sustainable end-of-life option. But how is biodegradability measured or demonstrated, when is biodegradation complete and how long can the biodegradation process acceptably take? In this presentation, the key aspects of measuring biodegradability of polymers and plastics are addressed, including some common misconceptions and current issues. They will further be discussed these in relation to standardization of evaluation methods, certification of biodegradable products and policy development (e.g. the European plastics strategy). 

Regulation of Biodegradable Polymers – How is Biodegradability Treated in EU Policy? by Nicolas Hark (nova-Institute)With the publication of both, a proposal for the new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) and a dedicated policy framework for bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics (BBP/BDCP) the EU policy landscape is attempting to take substantial steps in the right direction. How is biodegradability of plastics and polymers generally seen in the current policy framework and what could change with these new instruments? How does science see biodegradable plastics and what are the scientific recommendations for policymakers?

Session 4Tuesday 13 June from 13:30-15:00 CET
Each presentation 30 Min + 15 Min discussion

Title: Advanced Recycling – Technology Overview and Deeper Insights into Depolymerisation of Polymers via Chemicals and EnzymesModeration: Jacco van Haveren (WUR)Technologies, Markets and Policies on “Advanced Recycling” by Dr. Lars Krause (nova-Institute)Mapping of Advanced Recycling Technologies for Plastics Waste. There are gaps in the current life cycle of plastic products, a total of 30 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually in Europe, of which about 29 million tonnes are collected. Most of the collected plastic waste is incinerated or landfilled, which are the least preferred options according to the waste hierarchy. In addition to conventional mechanical recycling, a wide range of chemical recycling technologies are coming into focus in discussions on improving recycling rates. Chemical recycling technologies represent innovative ways of dealing with post-consumer waste and offer a range of options not available in current materials recycling pathways. However, as these new technologies are still at an early stage of development, developers face the challenge of proving their potential. While critics point to the stage of development of the technologies and the very large areas of uncertainty in the assessments to date, proponents of chemical recycling see the latest technologies as core technologies of the circular economy and the European Green Deal.

Polyester Recycling: the Role of Chemicals and Enzymes for a Circular Economy in PlasticsPart 1: Chemicals by  Shanmugam Thiyagarajan (WUR)Although Polyethylene furanote (PEF) has not entered the market yet, this polyester polymer is expected to play a significant role in a variety of applications, particularly in packaging. Over the past few decades, numerous academic and industrial research experts have thoroughly demonstrated PEF’s superior performance over a Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Evaluating the availability and production costs of these two polymers, though, would be premature. However, there is an urgent need to plan ahead and address all of the potential options that adhere to the circulatory principles of PEF or any type of new polymers that may come to the market in the future. In this regard, WFBR assessed the PEF polymers’ ability to chemically recycle back to its original monomer (i.e. 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid) in a variety of different catalysts. During the session, the preliminary findings will be discussed. 

Part 2: Enzymes by Tom Ewing (WUR) Enzymatic recycling makes use of hydrolytic enzymes to depolymerise polycondensation polymers, for example PET, to their constituent monomers. The monomers can subsequently be isolated and re-used. Advantages of enzymatic recycling include the mild reaction conditions required and selectivity towards a single polymer in mixed materials. We will discuss how, at WFBR, we are using enzymatic methods to develop recycling methodologies for multilayer plastic packaging material.

Session 5 Monday 19 June from 13:30-15:00 CET

Each presentation 30 Min + 15 Min discussion

Moderation: Pauline Ruiz (nova-Institute)

Title: Useful applications of biodegradable plasticsDeveloping end of Life Options for Plastics in Agri- and Horticultureby Karin Molenveld (WUR)When designing products that need to fully biodegrade at end of life the main challenge is to combine reliable functionality during the service time of the product with rapid biodegradation at end of life. The starting point is the need for a manmade product that does not accumulate (but will biodegrade) in a specific environment, and this can be challenging for products that need to biodegrade in the open environment (soil, marine). Polymer, material and product development need to be combined with biodegradability studies both at lab-scale but also in field tests to prove biodegradation in the actual environment. In this webinar we will present practical examples of developed products and their biodegradation behaviour with a specific focus on technical aspects.

For Which End-products is Biodegradation a Justified Need? Results and Impacts of the German BioSinn Project by Pauline Ruiz (nova-Institute)The BioSinn project found products and applications for which biodegradation at the end of life is a real option. 25 fact sheets answer technical and regulatory questions for each application. The market volume of these applications was also estimated: in the European Union about 1 million tonnes per year! In the EU, several million tonnes of plastics end up in the environment. In nature, in water, in the compost stream – every year, unhindered. Once landed there, it is often almost impossible to return them to the recycling stream: too small, untraceable, too costly. But there are plastic products that, even when used correctly, don’t even make it into the recycling stream and end up in nature, in water or in the compost.
And we deal with many of them every day. Think of cosmetics, tea bags, chewing gum or stickers on fruit and vegetables.

Publication date: 29/03/2023

Author: Marion Kupfer

Bio-based News


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.