European bioeconomy worth €2.1 trillion

A new macro-economy study by the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) has found that the bioconomy in Europe employs 18.3 million people and has a turnover of €2.1 trillion. Of that, bio-based industries are responsible for €600 billion, almost 30 per cent, employing 3.2 million people.

BIC announced the results of what it calls ‘the first extensive macro-economic study’ on the European bioeconomy at its general assembly on 3 March. The study analyses data from 2013.

The European bioeconomy includes food, feed and beverages sectors, which are responsible for roughly half of the turnover. Bio-based industries, responsible for a third, include chemicals and plastics, pharmaceuticals, paper and paper products, forest-based industries, textiles, biofuels and bioenergy.

Primary biomass production (agriculture, forestry and fishery) remains the biggest contributor to employment in the European bioeconomy, accounting for 58 per cent (10.6 million employees).

The study shows, however, that the bio-based chemical sector is growing: it documents an overall increase in the bio-based share of the total chemical industry in the EU-28 from five per cent in 2008 to six per cent in 2013. Only taking into account organic chemistry, the overall bio-based share increased from 10 per cent in 2008 to 12 per cent in 2013.

An additional internal survey from BIC revealed that its members alone are investing more than €2.1 billion in new demonstration projects and flagship infrastructure. Most of the short-term investments will take place in the lignocellulosic and forestry based value chains.

Marcel Wubbolts, Chair of BIC said: “Bio-based industries show €600 billion turnover and 3.2 million employees. The bio-based industry is already an important part of the European economy and a pivotal element in the transition towards sustainable, circular economy in Europe with renewable raw materials as key enablers.

“Europe should continue on this path and create stable policies to further accelerate the European bioeconomy.”

Bio-based polymers worldwide

The worldwide production capacity of bio-based polymers, specifically, is expected to triple by 2020, from 5.7 million tonnes (2014) to nearly 17 million tonnes according to Germany based consultancy, nova-Institute. The projected figures estimate that the proportion of bio-based polymer production will increase from a two per cent (2013) to a four per cent share of global overall polymer production in 2020.

Europe’s share, however, is projected to decrease from 15.4 per cent to 4.9 per cent while Asia, which currently houses 58.1 per cent of bioplastic production, is predicted to increase capacity to 80.6 per cent of the shares.

The full report into the European bioeconomy can be found on the BIC website.