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Positive developments for EU bioeconomy

The most recent Rehap workshop examined the amount of waste material from agriculture and forestry available for novel materials for the construction industry.

A recent Rehap workshop looked at how agricultural waste such as bedding straw can be turned into sustainable materials for the construction industry.

The EU-funded project Rehap aims to strengthen the European bioeconomy industry by creating novel materials from agricultural and forestry waste. The goal: to replace oil-based polyurethanes with eco-friendly, sustainable bio-polymers for novel materials commonly used in the construction industry including, foams, adhesives, wooden panels and cement.

However, natural resources are finite. Thus, there is concern shared across the EU about the long-term viability of how we use our renewable natural resources in the bioeconomy. A report published by the European Environment Agency in August 2018, “The circular economy and the bioeconomy”, revealed that the EU wants to progressively intervene in the areas of food waste, biomass and bio-based products. As the bioeconomy continues to grow, these areas are under increased pressure to tackle expanding supply and demand issues and shifts in the availability of land.

Workshop looks at availabitity of material

Therefore Rehap recently hosted a workshop that explored the availability of raw materials that can be used in the bioeconomy and looked at how projects in similar sectors are swiftly developing new and advanced technologies and processes for the production of bio-based products and materials from biomass. The workshop, which was held on 27 September at the University of Augsburg, Germany, promoted successful cases for bio-based products and materials, as well as detailed results from the ongoing Rehap project. Presentations focused on the techniques and bottlenecks of the technologies and processes used in Rehap and other projects, with a focus on the availability of raw materials. Klaus Richter from the Technical University of Munich gave a presentation on the “cascading use” of wood. This involves prioritising value-adding non-fuel uses of wood, so it is only burned for energy after it has been used, re-used and recycled as much as possible.

Focus on sustainability of Rehap products

The Rehap project presented its developments in using advanced technologies to make sure the products it is making are as sustainable as possible. This included an assessment of the availability of waste biomass in the EU agroforestry sector up until 2030, and the development of a supply network for the transportation of this biomass. Moreover, the presentation also revealed how the sustainability of Rehap products and materials may actually help boost their deployment within and outside of the construction sector.


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