Gunter Pauli and the ‘Blue Economy’

The interesting thing about festivals like Springtij at Terschelling is, that out of the blue you run into people with a completely new line of thinking. Someone like Gunter Pauli, who invented the ‘Blue Economy’ concept, because the ‘Green Economy’ … Read more

The European Commission’s alcohol problem

The European Commission may renounce its former renewable fuel directive, and plans to lower the required renewable fuel percentage from 10 to 5%. The ethanol industry is furious, and accuses the Commission of an ‘irresponsible U-turn on biofuels policy’. Could … Read more


Seaweed for human consumption. In the Far East, it has been on the menu for ages. In our bioshops it is quite expensive nowadays – but in the Western world, seaweed harvested in the wild, was poor people’s food, and … Read more

Long live Europe, trend 5: decentralisation of industry in a biobased society

The environmental movement of the seventies, precursor to the present movement for sustainability, was largely anti-technological. Technology seemed to be inherently large-scale; it produced nuclear power stations and polluting chemical complexes. But technology has taken a turn into the opposite … Read more

Shale gas in Europe

Item in the discussion series on shale gas on this site. The European Parliament Environmental Committee is of the opinion that member states should be prudent in drilling for shale gas, until better data are available about risks. According to … Read more

No chemistry

Sorry, this column about a discussion in The Hague, 17 September, on biobased business opportunities, is only available in Dutch.

Carbon dioxide economy

German Nova-institute released an interesting press release, August 15: ‘The next revolution: CO2 plus renewable energy can serve as a feedstock for fuels, chemicals and plastics’. According to Nova’s CO2 expert Dr. Fabrizio Sibilla, CO2 will produce many environmental gains, … Read more


Just for a second, one forgets Europe and feels a one hundred percent Dutchman on a hot Sunday afternoon. Where? In ‘Futureland’. Again please? Right, nowadays that is the name of the second Maasvlakte, the artificial harbour area in the … Read more

Selective usage

A recent report by the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (discussed here on the 10th of august by Diederik van der Hoeven) argues in favour of selective energetic usage of biomass. That is good advice. Photosynthesis is beautiful but its … Read more

How the West was lost

‘Everyone should read this book’ is a thought which does not come up often. But it did come up with me as I read ‘How the West was lost’ by Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian economist who worked for Goldman Sachs … Read more

PLA to become a major biobased plastic

An estimated production capacity of almost 800.000 tons per year of polylactic acid (PLA) polymer in 2020. That is the outcome of a study by nova-Institute, based in Hurth, Germany. At present the total capacity of 25 companies amounts to … Read more

DSM, a smart player in the biobased economy

There is a big opportunity for the Dutch chemical industry beyond bulk products. A small country, with a strong agro-food sector and specialized technology, should aim to develop knowledge and higher-value products in the biobased economy. One of the first … Read more

Why it is so hard to sell sustainability

Sustainability is a difficult subject. Many conversation partners are willing to accept that mankind pursues activities which endanger the planet, ecosystems, future generations, plants, animals. But they have a hard time accepting that human activities, worse: human thought, will have … Read more

Debrief Rio+20

Disappointment and resolve. Those were the general feelings in the Rio+20 debrief meeting, July 19 in The Hague. Disappointment because results had been meagre: merely the affirmation of previous agreements, without emphasis on their importance. As Kitty van der Heijden, … Read more

An avalanche on wheels

Having been the owner of a little house in the French campagne, visited each year, I had not been in the mountains for some twenty years. But finally we went there. Somewhere in the French Alps, near Morzine, we were … Read more

Why PEF is better than PET

Biobased PEF (polyethylene furanoate), the new feedstock for soft drink bottles (Coca Cola and Danone) is not only green, but also cheaper to produce than both fossil and drop-in green PET (polyethylene terephthalate). It also has better properties. Tom van … Read more

Lignin, new opportunities

As researchers have discovered commercial pathways to separate cellulose and hemicellulose on a commercial scale, lignin treatment is the next step. And quite more complex. Utrecht University seems well underway to tackle this problem. Chemistry is on its way to … Read more

Top sector policy, a mission impossible?

Government should invest more in innovation in businesses, and less in fundamental scientific research. That is the shorthand notation for the new Dutch innovation policy, ‘top sector policy’. But this policy meets with difficulties, while financing research is increasingly unclear. … Read more

Europe’s bioeconomy: this year is decisive

That is Nathalie Moll’s opinion, secretary-general to Europabio, the Brussels lobby branch of Europe’s biotechnological industry. Industrial biotechnology is growing fast, and is selected as one of six Key Enabling Technologies for a greener and more sustainable Europe. The European … Read more

Logistics in the biobased society

It goes without saying that the biobased economy will produce major changes in society. Yet, many people do not realise to what an extent – eventually, the biobased economy will produce another society, a biobased society. Logistics is a fine … Read more