Inagro visits the International Conference for Bio-based materials in Cologne
Tuesday 12 June 2018
On 15 and 16 May more than 30 speakers came to create an extensive image of the State of affairs in the field of bio-based materials. Due to the great interest in the circular and bio-based economy in recent years, this is a field that is rapidly evolving. The importance of bio-based materials works for agriculture in 2 directions: agriculture is necessary for advancement of bio-based materials, but conversely, it can also be of great importance for agriculture itself.
At the Conference in Cologne more than 30 speakers and more than 200 researchers and experts from various sectors came together discuss the progress made and stumbling blocks in the field of bio-based materials. The extensive presentations and bold questions rounds afterwards showed that phenomenal potential in this sector is present. By the large attendance it was also an ideal event for many useful contacts and to discuss the possibilities in the agricultural sector. In the framework of the BioBoost project it seemed very interesting to explore our options within this diverse sector. The problem of valorisation of by-products can be addressed from different angles.
The condition to be able to speak of a bio-based material is that the material is built up based on an organic carbon source. Examples are wood residues or crops that are grown specifically for the use as raw material for bio-based materials. More interesting is that also residues of agriculture and horticulture are an ideal candidate for this. These are now often left on the field or drained. In this way, they would be exploited to bio-based materials and can be used for a wide range of applications.
Bio-based materials can also provide a solution to problems in agriculture and horticulture. The stems that remain after the cultivation of the tomatoes are cleared away from the greenhouses and burned. This happens because there are many clips and ropes left behind between the stems after harvesting. This ensures that they are difficult to process. Also the manual removal of rope and clips is not financially interesting. This problem can be solved by looking for a material that is compostable for making rope and clips. Such options were frequently discussed at the Conference. In this way the material can be broken down during the composting process. This is an ideal method for making these residual streams valuable.
No doubt there are still problems or possible improvements within the agricultural sector where biomaterials can give a solution in the future!