Systems thinking is not our forte

We all know the stories about DDT, fifty years ago – but did we learn from them? Not quite, says Ton Schoot Uiterkamp, a retired – but still very active – professor in environmental sciences at Groningen University. He has … Read more

More guts needed for the bioeconomy

North-western Europe has the best feedstock in the world for biobased industries, says Marc Verbruggen, NatureWorks’ CEO and largest PLA producer in the world. He could have added: also the largest sugar factories, the highest yields per hectare, outstanding research … Read more

Welcome to the age of CRISPR

Genetic modification is not a new technology. But a new tool, CRISPR, now elevates it to a much higher level. And op top of that, genetic modification is in the course of a rapid automation. This allows us to change … Read more

Green Deal, lubricant in the system

Charging point in Amsterdam

‘Let a thousand flowers blossom,’ chairman Mao said long ago. This concept could be appropriate to the number and diversity of the unusual phenomenon of the Green Deal, a mechanism devised by the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs to ease … Read more

BioProductProcessor comes to the farm

Biorefinery will come to the farm. On the basis of small-scale equipment that fits in a container; that allows farmers to create more value from their crops. The BioProductProcessor feeds on oily crops and a volume of well-sealed enzymes. It … Read more

Green building

If we could really succeed in establishing a sustainable production chain of concrete, it would be more effective and cheaper than solar and wind power. An example of the potential of green building for the environment and a sustainable society. … Read more

Roel’s team

Roel Bol

Roel Bol Sorry, we publish this review of the Biobased Economy team of the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs, headed by Roel Bol, in Dutch only.

Naomi Klein: everyone will be affected

Would there still be safe havens if the sea level starts rising as a result of the greenhouse effect? For the time being, people will be relatively safe in industrialised countries. Even in low-lying countries like the Netherlands, that will … Read more


The Italian blog Il Bioeconomista recently announced that the American biotech company Genomatica (San Diego) intends to develop enzymatic industrial pathways for the production of the chemical building blocks hexamethylenediamine, adipic acid and caprolactam. These compounds are drop-ins in the … Read more

Biobased transition in Europe: how fast?

Marcel Wubbolts

At the conference where the report ‘Opportunities for the fermentation-based chemical industry’ was published, we also talked to Marcel Wubbolts, DSM’s CTO and president of BIC (the Biobased Industry Consortium). How long could the biobased transition for the chemical industry … Read more

Sugar, Europe’s strength

Sugar mill in Wanze, Belgium

Europe should develop a more practical vision on its future sustainable industry, says Dirk Carrez. ‘We do not have to stretch ourselves to be as sustainable and as cost-effective as possible from the outset. Let us take our time for … Read more

Peak gas

Activists occupy NAM location in 't Zandt, Groningen province

Worldwide, peak gas is not yet an issue; but the Netherlands have now crossed The Hill. Europe’s largest gas field, discovered some 50 years ago, has been depleted for two thirds. The Dutch will not be able to deplete the … Read more

Almost until the very end

Why on earth do we human beings have so much difficulty changing our thoughts – and our actions? For instance, change from a fossil economy to a green economy, from an inflexible hierarchical command society to a small-scale grass roots … Read more

The Bioprocess Pilot Facility in Delft

New prospects in industrial biotechnology (processes, new products) developed in the lab will have to be tested at a relevant scale before they can be taken into commercial production. A test facility that imitates the production process at a semi-technical … Read more

Seaweed is becoming big business

Seaweed is on its way to become a serious hype, and a sustainable one. At the second international seaweed conference Seagriculture, in Den Helder and at the Wadden isle of Texel, the long red, green and brown strings even became … Read more

EFIB, now is the time!

Whereas last year, EFIB was still under the aegis of high hopes on this new phenomenon, the biobased economy, this year in Brussels the main sentiment was ‘this is the time for Europe, otherwise others will take the lead’. There … Read more

Correct decision, wrong arguments

The European Parliament has decided. The share of biofuels in the fuel mix will be reduced from 10 to 6% in 2020. Is that disastrous or beneficial, on the contrary? And why? According to European figures, biofuels would contribute a … Read more

Flax fibre instead of glass fibre

Synthetic and glass fibres have never completely substituted natural fibres. On the contrary, there is a growing interest for application of natural fibres in composite materials – biobased or not, biodegradable or not – and as an insulating construction material. … Read more

Phosphorus recovery, an urgent matter

Phosphorus is an essential element in the formation of vegetal and animal biomass. But whereas living organisms can use oxygen and nitrogen from the air for their processes, phosphorus is only available as a mineral, in the form of phosphate. … Read more

Marc Verbruggen (Natureworks): ‘Europe has the sugar beet, the best crop for biopolymers, but does not use it.’

Europe has the best feedstock for producing biopolymers, beet sugar, but instead aims at developing cellulosic crops. An example of Europe’s ineffectiveness. ‘A Southeast Asian delegation recently remarked to me: While Europe talks, we build,’ says Marc Verbruggen, CEO and … Read more

Design promotes the biobased economy

How does one draw public attention to the new, green economy? And the industry’s attention? The answer: call in the creative people, the industrial designers, the architects, the game and the fashion designers. In short, the people with creative ideas. … Read more

Innovation, the Dutch disease

Figureheads of the top sectors, 2011

Once, Dutch Lagerwey wind turbines were the best and most innovative, but did that lead to a major wind turbine industry? No, that branch is in the hands of the Germans and Danes. And solar energy? The Netherlands were among … Read more