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Sustainability in focus

Sustainability is at the heart of the 2018-2020 research programme. “We will conduct research into sustainability for the transition to a bio-based economy,” says sustainability expert Tatjana Karpenja.

In total, four overall sustainability goals have been produced and each one is the focus of a programme area:

Renewable materials - Meeting social needs with products produced from the forest. 
Resource efficiency - Minimising cost and environmental impact through more efficient use of resources and energy.
Process efficiency - Increasing manufacturing volumes and quality through production efficiency and runnability. 
Circular economy - Facilitating the circular economy through technological and business models.

Sustainability knowledge, such as links to international and local sustainability goals, legislation, and trend and scenario work, is being used to guide the work of the various programmes. This work also involves quantifying the sustainability benefit of innovations, such as the techno-economic and the environmental. 

“Today’s social challenges are complex”

Tatjana also explains that we are currently living as if we have 1.6 earths instead of just one, which means that we are consuming more resources in a year than nature can produce. She regards this as an extremely complex and major resource challenge. 

“In order to understand the total sustainability potential of innovations, you need to view the complete picture. You do this by putting your materials and processes in a larger perspective, such as a concrete case or value-chain perspective, in order to analyse any positive changes or challenges among the various players,” says Tatjana.  

However, it is not always possible to confirm that bio-based is better than fossil-based, and this is something that needs to be analysed on a case-by-case basis. 

“Transporting your goods long distances can, for example, contribute to more emissions, which can cancel out the benefits of innovative materials and processes. Another example may be that we create the best possible solution for the customer, but ultimately resources may have no value if they cannot be reused or recycled,” says Tatjana. 

In summary, it’s a question of managing resources efficiently in order to ensure stable and attractive businesses and societies in the long term. Renewable raw materials and circularity are important starting points in that respect.

Tatjana Karpenja works with sustainbility at RISE Bioeconomy.

Contact

Tatjana Karpenja
+46 8 676 7026
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