Competence fields in Weser-Ems

Field of activity 4: promote the material use of re-growing raw materials

In the field of material use of biomass there are comprehensive experiences in Weser-Ems, however, only for a slow innovation distribution. The reasons for this are complex and not completely mentioned here:

  • The argument of the chemical industry for the use of re-growing raw materials is  "technical superiority“ of the products, rarely the environmental aspect.
  • The industry expects that raw materials imply low costs; re-growing raw materials are often still too expensive.
  • The agriculture in the region does not work as “supplier“ for larger amounts of raw materials or by-products and waste for the chemical industry due to mostly small/ medium-sized plant sizes. Due to the frequently very special requirements, however, niche markets can be explored for special substances and new process chains. In addition to this, other growing markets, like the area of bioplastics, sustainable construction and insulation materials or the technical use of strength still offer development potential.
  • Two ways of thinking in the chemical industry must be considered: a) one either likes to produce expensive products for small markets or b) big amounts with small margins.
  • In addition to this, a direct material use, which is a competition for the established animal food and food production, implies challenges. Adapted value added chains and the intelligent utilisation of residual materials, by-products and waste or special biomass (e.g. algae, lignocellulose) shall be preferred.

Basically, fundamental research in this sector should be extended and established more strongly by means of applied implementation projects in the region. This not only applies to the chemical industry but also to the construction and plastics industry. Furthermore many companies and municipalities do not use the alternative technical possibilities of applying re-growing raw materials sufficiently. It is essential to consider the subject “sustainable procurement“ stronger for public invitations to tender.