Bioeconomy. Image: Novabosza Shutterstock

The joint application of a circular economy and the bioeconomy is one of the best ways to use natural resources in a sustainable way. This is stated in a report by the European Environment Agency (Circular economy and bioeconomy – Partners in sustainable development), who argues that the joint application of these two concepts, by applying specific design principles in a systems approach, would improve the efficiency of natural resources and reduce pressure on the environment.

With a world population of 7600 million inhabitants, on the horizon 9 billion, with the objective of achieving a broad and inclusive well-being, on a planet with limited natural resources, if it continues to be based on a model of high consumption of natural resources, no It will only worsen the ecological crisis and will be affected by the scarcity of natural resources.

Growing demand for food, feed, biomaterials and bioenergy resources could lead to overexploitation of natural resources, the report says. By extending the useful life of recycled products and materials, a circular bioeconomy approach can help maintain the value of materials and their use for longer, as well as prevent the waste of unrecycled natural waste.

Circular economy.

There are three types of natural resources extracted and used for economic purposes: minerals, fossil fuels, and plant / animal materials. The change in the economic model, from a model with high consumption of natural resources to a circular model that minimizes the consumption of natural resources, has different characteristics for the three types of natural resources.

For certain natural materials, such as wood or plant fibers, the circular economy can consist in recycling and reusing them.

For others, like organic waste, it can be the production of renewable energy (biogas and biomethane), and compost that returns organic matter to the earth.

For others, such as wastes, by-products and products of plant and animal origin, it may include supplying renewable materials to the construction, furniture, chemical and other industries, as well as ” to the production of renewable energy.

These different uses of biomaterials fuel what is called the “bioeconomy,” which includes growing economic activities that can generate significant environmental and employment benefits.

The circular economy pays a lot of attention to waste management and in particular the so-called ‘waste hierarchy’, but does not pay as much attention to the quality of the materials used and to improving the possibilities of recycling.


The bioeconomy is an opportunity and a necessity for our society, it includes the production of renewable organic resources and their transformation into food, feed, organic products and bioenergy. It includes agriculture, forestry, fishing, food and pulp and paper production, as well as parts of the chemical, biotechnology and energy industries.

These different uses of biomaterials fuel what is called the “bioeconomy,” which includes growing economic activities that can generate significant environmental and employment benefits.

The growing demand for food, feed, biomaterials and bioenergy resources could exacerbate the overexploitation of natural resources. Extending the useful life of recycled products and materials, with a circular and bioeconomy-based approach, can help maintain the value and functionality of materials for longer, as well as prevent the waste of unrecycled biodiesel.

Among the most promising innovations and strategies for the circular use of biomass are the biorefinery, 3D printing with bioplastics, multipurpose crops, better use of food and waste waste and the treatment of biodegradable waste. Consumers can also contribute to the sustainability of the bioeconomy, for example by consuming less animal protein, avoiding food waste and separating organic waste from other waste.

Developing the bioeconomy can promote sustainable forest management, better environmental protection, support for quality multifunctional agriculture and significant income support for farmers, as well as more innovative and efficient forest management. . waste in general, and organic in particular.

To make us aware of its great importance, as an example *, the agricultural sector in Spain generated a gross added value of 21,707 million euros in 2013, representing 2.5% of the national GDP, developing its activity in 890,000 farms and generating 740,000 work jobs. The fishing sector generated a GVA of 1,047 million euros in 2013, with a total of 5,025 operations and 9,871 vessels, or 64,675 jobs. The agrifood sector generated in 2012 a GVA of 28,448 million euros, representing 2.7% of the GDP, with a total of 28,762 companies and directly generating 480,000 jobs. The forestry and logging sector as well as the wood, cork and paper industry generated a gross added value (GVA) of € 5,936 million in 2012, or 0.56% of GDP national. The biotechnology sector, according to data from INE 2013, is made up of 2,831 companies employing 172,939 people, of which 9,135 carry out R&D in biotechnology, with 5,148 researchers. There are 530 companies working in R&D: 196 in animal health and aquaculture; 314 in food; 206 in agricultural and forestry production; 182 in the environment and 159 in industry.

Circular economy + bioeconomy = sustainability.

The numbers are important. In 2014, the bioeconomy represented 9% of the total European economy and more than 25% of the material flows used: 63% came from agriculture, 36% from forestry and only 1% from fishing. Each year, between 118 and 138 million tonnes of biodegradable waste are generated in Europe, of which around 100 million is food waste, of which only 25% is recycled.

There are many synergies between the circular economy and the bioeconomy, synergies that must be used more and more every day, # CoñecementoParaTodos.

The circular economy and bioeconomy, as activities of a green economy, must pay a comprehensive and integrated attention to environmental sustainability: the withdrawal of biological materials – which are also increasing to replace non-renewable ones, as they are biodegradable and, in general, more environmentally friendly and because they are renewable energy sources – they must not harm the protection of biodiversity and they must not change the primary function of agriculture , which must continue to be that of producing food.

Europe wants to bet on the bioeconomy and the circular economy decisively in the years to come, by increasing the amounts of funds
The ERDF aims to promote innovation or rural development funds.

* Official data from indicator statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA).