Prof. dr. Alle Bruggink: How to cycle up

How to cycle up

Prof. dr. Alle Bruggink, Wageningen University

In a circular economy both energy and materials will have to be sourced from renewables. In energy sun, wind and water will shape the future also as a first big example of dematerialisation. For our material and molecular needs only biomass can serve, provided we do not collide with our food chains. That can be done. Farmers can earn additional income in providing fibres and starting materials for bioplastics. Sugar will develop as the “oil” of the future and synthetic biology will  serve the manufacture of our more complicated products. All in all biobased alternatives are available for all present industrial chemicals and materials. New products will increasingly come from biological sources. The next challenge is to develop efficient loops for recycling all our products, whereby the greatest one is upcycling: giving materials and products a second or a third life whereby the added value increases in each next life cycle. We will need new technological concepts, such as for product design and use, as well as for economy, i.e. for possession, use, taxation and environmental effects. It might be an interesting debate whether technology or society will take the lead in developing such a circular economy.