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

2. Scope

2.1 Definitions used in this research

Bio-economy: “The Bio-economy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources [agriculture, forestry, fishery] and their conversion into food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy.” (Nattrass et al., 2016, p.15)
Bio-based economy: The bio-based economy is a subset of the bio economy, encompassing the conversion of renewable biological resources (from agriculture, forestry, fishery) into bio-based materials, products, fuels and energy sources.

Figure 2.1 depicts the bio-economy and bio-based economy as part the total carbon economy. Biomass as an energy carrier can be considered as a subset of the bio-based economy. In this report we focus on the bio-based economy as a whole as indicators for bio-energy are already available from a micro-economic approach (e.g. Linder et al., 2021).

Figure 2.1 shows the bio-economy and bio-based economy as a subset of the total economy.

2.2 Sustainable use of biomass

A transition to a more circular economy could possibly increase demand for biomass. Biomass can be used as a substitute for non-renewable resources like fossil fuels and building materials. If CE is to contribute to a sustainable society, it will have to be beneficial for the environment. It is therefore is paramount that only sustainably produced biomass is used. The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands recently reported on the requirements for sustainably produced biomass by (SER, 2020).
The present report considers only quantities of biomass irrespective of how they are produced and how sustainably they are used. A quantitative analysis is considered the first step after which it becomes easier to zoom in on the sustainability of relevant types of biomass. This second step is beyond the scope of this report but should be further researched.

2.3 Different kinds of biomass

Biomass consist of all kinds of plant and animal-based organic matter. The content or origin of biomass determines how it can be used and how it can play a role in the transition to CE. In this report neither the content of biomass, for example fibre or nutrients, nor the origin – plant or animal– is considered. Also, biomass in terms of carbon content, which was part of a pilot study, is beyond the scope of this report. However, to make biomass from different origins more comparable all materials are converted to dry mass.