Author: Roel Delahaye, Vivian Tunn
Monitoring the biobased economy from a macro-economic perspective

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

The Dutch government has set goals to use 50 percent less abiotic resources by 2030 and achieve a fully circular economy (CE) by 2050. Reduction of abiotic resources can be achieved in a number of ways:

  1. more efficient use of primary resources;
  2. better use of secondary resources;
  3. substitution of abiotic by biotic resources.

The third option will result in a more bio-based economy. This report describes the development, estimation and validation of indicators for a bio-based economy.

The size of the Dutch bio-based economy has been estimated in the past, among others by CE Delft, RVO and WUR (Goh et al, 2016; Groenestijn, 2019; Kwant et al., 2018; Lieshout et al., 2018). At the request of RVO, CE Delft developed a method based on national statistical data: in a nutshell they estimated the bio-based economy by applying bio-based shares to the production of (potentially) bio-based products. This method was improved in the H2020 Biomonitor project ( by measuring the bio-based economy as part of the bio-economy and the total economy, including 100 percent biotic and abiotic products. To do this, the Material Flow Monitor (MFM) – which contains all material flows to, from, and within the economy – was extended (Berkel , van and Delahaye, forthcoming). The MFM is already used to derive indictors to monitor the transition to a CE (Hanemaaijer et al., 2021). In this report, the MFM is augmented to include the bio-based economy. The resulting Bio Flow Monitor (BFM) is used to develop CE policy relevant indicators.
The bio-based economy is not only relevant in the domestic context; with its EU Bio-economy Monitoring System, the European Commission is also taking steps to track the progress of a sustainable and circular bio-economy1).

1.2 Goals

The research presented in this report aimed to:

  1. Compile the Bio Flow Monitor (BFM) dataset for 2018. This dataset contains two supply and use tables for dry matter: one for biotic material flows and one for abiotic flows.
  2. Identify and compile potentially relevant indicators for CE policy. These include production, substitution, cascading, dependency and economic variables.
  3. Validate the plausibility of the indicators. One way to do this is through a stakeholder meeting.