Biosourced, a value for the future? Towards a "win-win" social contract between stakeholders

Reducing global warming and improving the carbon balance; designing, creating and producing ecological and sustainable products, committing to the sustainable use of resources by using recyclable raw materials... all these are challenges to encourage the use of bio-sourced materials. So can bio-sourced materials be recognized as a "value of the future"? Can we facilitate agreements between stakeholders in the bio-based industries, towards "win-win" contracts? Are biosourced transitions capable of reducing our dependence on fossil resources and the environmental and health impacts of our production and consumption? Questions on the agenda of the second BIORESP Forum on June 12.
Por reminder, "bio-sourced" includes all non-food materials and molecules produced from plant or animal biomass, which is in principle renewable. The materials (wood, cork, straw, plant fibres, hair and feathers, etc.) are mainly intended for the building, automotive, packaging and leisure sectors; the molecules are used in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, hygiene, glues, paints, lubrication and energy sectors.
Biosourced materials, natural insulators
In its introduction BIORESP Forum of the year, Dorothée Browaeys, General Coordinator, notes that the reconfigurations involved in the bioeconomy are already happening: "We are discovering an astonishing landscape, especially around the palm oil debates: the FNSEA and the WWF are unexpectedly lining up. To produce biodiesel, Total decided to use this oil of Malaysian and Indonesian origin in place of French rapeseed oil at its La Mède biorefinery in the Bouches-du-Rhône region of France, arousing the ire of agricultural unions and environmental NGOs alike - albeit for different reasons. This example shows that unprecedented alliances can emerge, with different interests. Dorothée Browaeys reminds us that the Forum will be useful precisely to "taking the lead on controversies. Today it is a question of asking ourselves about the relevant biomasses for renewable chemistry, and the relationships to be developed within the territories."

Biosourced versus biodegradable

Let's start by reframing what is and what is not bio-based. Specifically, "it is important to distinguish between bio-sourced and biodegradable...stressed Christophe Doukki de BoissoudyPresident of the Bioplastics Club and Director of  Novamont-France. A petrochemical product may be perfectly biodegradable; conversely, a bio-based product may not be. » In other words, the chemistry of petroleum derivatives has long been able to make biodegradable, but hardly anyone asked for it until the last few years! "If plastic was made in the first place, it wasn't made to be biodegradable or compostable.he called back. But so that it is a resistant, light, unalterable, possibly transparent material that can replace what we already knew. Chemistry therefore developed polymer molecules that were not attackable by microorganisms. This is not antinomic for chemistry, which can very well make materials that are attackable by microorganisms. This is the case with most bioplastics. » The latter generally meet standards or labels that qualify their biodegradability.
Message received! On the other hand, non-biodegradable bio-sourced products can be more surprising. Yet it is a reality: for example, the bio-polyester PEF (polyethylene furanoate) produced from wheat and corn by the Dutch group Avantium, supported by a consortium including Coca-Cola, Danone, Basf, among others, to replace PET (polyethylene terephthalate) in beverage packaging, is bio-sourced, but not biodegradable. This was explained by Sandra DomenekHe is an expert in polymers and bioplastics at AgroParisTech : "Avantium emphasized the fact that the EFP can be recycled. This example illustrates well the observed semantic shifts from biodegradable to biosourced by maintaining the blur between these two words. »
Another example cited during the discussion was the polyethylene (PE) from the Brazilian company Braskem, used in some bottles, particularly Coca-Cola bottles, and in the flexible "botanical bricks" of Lego: "It comes from sugar cane, so 100 % vegetable, but absolutely not biodegradable, said Philippe Michon, Director of Alternative Plastics.
Indeed, the biodegradable character - the "biodegradability" - of industrial polymers depends on the presence in these molecules of chemical bonds easily cleavable by the enzymes of microorganisms. On the contrary, non-degradable compounds are made up of a very solid carbon skeleton based on carbon (C--C) bonds. Therefore, plastics and bioplastics such as PE, PET and polypropylene (PP) are not biodegradable, whereas polylactides (PLA) and polyesters, such as the repeatedly quoted BASF Ecoflex, are. However, according to Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy, the association European Bioplastics puts biosourced plastics (bioplastics) and biodegradable plastics in the same basket. While the effort is thus made to associate the biodegradability to the biosourced, "There would be no coherence to present biodegradable plastics which would be 100 % of fossil origin".
However, as Sandra Domenek and the Novamont manager pointed out, biodegradability - and therefore "compostability" since the compost is made from biodegradable materials - depends on certain key factors, including the thickness of the product. Anyone who has tried to decompose a tree branch in their compost will understand: the same material degrades in a given environment at different rates depending on its thickness. A point that calls into question the design of compostability certifications. "In the Energy Transition Act, cups and plates will have to be biodegradable in home composting by 2020, commented Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy. However, the notion of domestic composting is used as it was for bags that are only 20 microns thick, whereas 250-micron cups obviously do not decompose like bags. »

Variable risk taking

With these benchmarks in place, who are the players who transform bio-based materials and marketable products? Sandra Domenek distinguishes between two main types.
The first bring together agricultural cooperatives that seek to develop renewable plant material. They extract already existing molecules, typically starch, from biomass.
The others are rather the chemical industrialists who will manufacture "synthons" or "platform molecules", such as aspartic, lactic, glutamic, levulinic and succinic acid, ethylene, isobutene, glycerol, sorbitol and xylitol, from which various derivatives can be derived.
"Conceptually, these two types of activities are very different and do not generally mobilize the same skills, said the AgroParisTech researcher.
Obviously, making new molecules from "elementary bricks" is "more risky compared to an approach that merely replaces petro-sourced carbon".
These activities are intertwined in their socio-economic and environmental interests. Because bio-sourced products, whether biodegradable or not, make it possible to reduce the use of fossil resources whose use is a major emitter of greenhouse gases. It therefore contributes to the fight against climate change and against pollution linked to hydrocarbons and the products they produce, starting with the plastics that invade roadsides, rivers and finally the oceans.
Photo ©Seyllou, AFP

Be careful, however, tempers Philippe Michon: "Bio-based products are not going to solve the problem of marine pollution. Marine pollution is mainly caused by seven of the world's major rivers, three in Africa and four in Asia, which irrigate countries without waste management systems. If we want to tackle this problem head on, it would be a good idea for Europe to finance waste recycling projects in these countries. »

Environmental virtues

First and foremost, industrialists are interested in the new functionalities provided by bio-based products thanks to their mechanical characteristics and their particular permeability, but also, of course, thanks to their biodegradability for most of them. From this point of view, bio-based products are not presented as a means of replacing petrochemical products, some of which are also endowed with new qualities and biodegradability, but as a complement, notes Philippe Michon: "There have been too many turf wars between bio-based and fossil-based fundamentalists. Today's "plastic attacks" call for the elimination of all plastic packaging of fossil origin. But it can't work like that. Developing countries need more hygiene and therefore more packaging. Biosourced products can provide these new features, but they are not the only ones. This is the case, for example, of totally biodegradable paintballs designed to carry pesticides or pheromones on plantations. »
Further upstream, at the level of resource plant exploitation, the interest is more questionable if we consider the development of palm oil or certain biofuel plants, which consume a lot of space and inputs. Philippe Michon and Emmanuel de MaupeauThe farmer and founder of the NovaBiom company, NovaBiom, presented two examples of plant crops with proven environmental virtues.
Green algae on the beach of Trezmalaouen, at the bottom of the bay of Douarnenez - Finistère. Photo ©Le Marin

The first example is that of green algae, which Philippe Michon is promoting with the company. Eranova which he created in 2016 with Philippe Lavoisier to manufacture bio-sourced plastic. "Marine pollution from green algae is significant in most countries of the world and is a burden on local communities, which must eliminate it within 24 and 48 hours. Hence the idea of using these polluting algae to create new bio-based plastics.he explained. The idea is to collect the stranding algae and cultivate them in dedicated cultivation ponds. The pre-pilot basin is located near the Etang de Berre, in Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône). Here the algae undergo a stress treatment that causes them to be enriched with starch, up to 50--60 % of the algae mass. The starch is then extracted enzymatically. The latter is used to make biodegradable plastics. »
For Philippe Michon, "Eranova's main interest is to use a biomass that does not compete with food resources. We are not claiming to be able to replace all plastics with an algal resource: it is impossible today. Experience shows that bioplastics are going to arrive in certain market niches with very particular and standardized applications. »
The first results are promising: "The yield produces thirteen times more starch per hectare than land-based crops, without the need for many nutrients. The algae are self-replicating and their biomass doubles in 4-5 days. We aim to have plastic films with an algal starch content of 50 % by 2020", which corresponds to the requirements of the Energy Transition Act.
Reed Miscanthus
Second example of culture "enviro--friendly." the Miscanthus, a perennial species of reed of Chinese origin. NovaBiomthe company that Emmanuel de Maupeau founded 12 years ago, is the main promoter in France, alongside the association France Miscanthus which he presides over. Nearly 6,000 hectares will be planted with Miscanthus in 2018, including 500 for NovaBiom, mainly north of the Loire. Its uses are 60 % combustion for heating or processing, but horticultural mulching using Miscanthus shavings spread on the ground - which, unlike pine shavings, does not acidify and keeps moist - is progressing, as well as use as animal bedding.
"Once established, Miscanthus requires no pesticides or fertilizers, or very low doses......the farmer boasted. The crop weeds itself by normal leaf fall, which results in a mulch of leaf weed killers. It does not require tillage, and does not disturb birds during nesting. It has even been noted that it creates ecological corridors allowing the increase in the population of arthropods, small mammals and birds. »
Another positive effect is that Miscanthus has a buffering role: it reduces the runoff of water contaminated by plant protection products by increasing water infiltration. Thus, noted the director of NovaBiom, "Amertzwiller's project in Alsace has shown a clear decrease in nitrates in the water since the planting of Miscanthus from 2009. These results have prompted us to plant the species in drinking water supply and catchment basins".

How to display carbon storage?

For Emmanuel de Maupeaou, eco-construction based on Miscanthus, a fourth application that is beginning to develop, is part of another virtuous movement: carbon storage. For the time being, however, there is nothing to upset the eco-construction market. A load-bearing block based on Miscanthus is carried by Altern, a major producer of concrete blocks, and Calcia cements. "This load-bearing block has a strength of 3 megapascals and a much better thermal resistance than concrete block, with soundproofing properties and good fire resistance. We are therefore waiting for the approval of the CSTB, the famous ATEx (Appréciation Technique d'Expérimentation), to be able to build housing estates. »
Yet, the carbon storage enabled by bio-based materials used in the habitat should be seen as a key feature and displayed as such, argued Yves Hustache, co-founder and director of the scoop  KaribatiThe first of these was at the round table on construction and housing. "When a bio-based building product is incorporated into a building, CO2 is permanently stored for the life of the building, and the short-term problem of global warming is addressed. All the scientists tell us that we have two or three years to respond to the climate emergency. With what buildings represent, the volume of storable carbon is very important. »
Curiously, this characteristic is still poorly or hardly taken into account by life cycle analyses (LCA), regretted the actors of the various round tables. Generally speaking, these environmental assessment tools have the merit of existing, but we should not expect more from them than they can provide. Thus, we were surprised to learn that among plastic materials, the champion of LCA, in terms of low environmental impact, is recycled and even non-recycled polyethylene (PE). Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy gave a vivid and convincing explanation: "Stroke is never more than a state of affairs at a given time. The champion of optimization, both at the industrial level and in terms of its transformation, thickness and recycling, is the one that has been around for a long time, in this case PE. The impact is linked to the mass and the optimization of the whole chain. This is why paper bags have a worse LCA than PE, which is thin and resistant. It is therefore difficult to compare products that are in evolution with products that are already evolved. It's like comparing brilliant bachelors and polytechnicians. Which of the two will have the best chance of getting into the workforce? The second, of course. Except that the bachelor's degree has a long way to go and may surpass the polytechnicien in a few years. »
For Alice Gueudet, an engineer in the Production and Sustainable Energies Department of ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency), who acted as a "key witness" during this round table, life cycle assessment should not, however, be seen solely as a tool for comparing technical solutions. For example, in the case of bioplastic bags, "LCA is mainly used for ecodesign purposes, showing product defects and areas for improvement under current technological and industry structure conditions". ADEME is thus coordinating an evaluation of the different packaging options for fruit and vegetables and their possible improvements, in consultation with economic players, including Novamont. The conclusions should be published at the end of the year.

Revitalizing the territories

The environmental value of the biosourced resource is generally perceived by local communities and investors, but it is not the driver of change, the forum participants agreed. The economic revitalization and territorial development brought by this new sector are the real drivers of the transition, associated with the cooperation of local actors.
Thus, the Etang de Berre region, where the Eranova pilot basin is located, is in great need of an industrial renaissance. The company has benefited from an ADEME investment program for the future, has received funding from the South region (PACA), and is supported by Total Développement Régional, an entity that is supposed to revitalize territories under contract with the State.
Other examples of territorial development, based on the circular economy, are well established in Normandy, this time under the impetus of the Noveatech service of the Chamber of Agriculture of the region. Two cooperative models were described by Stéphanie Raux, head of this department, which have the advantage of "freeing themselves from the problem of the price of raw materials" thanks to the desire for partnership and contracts between actors.
The first model, developed around the cultivation of hemp, combines a classic flax industrialist, connoisseur of the extraction (defibration) of hemp fibres for the automotive and construction sectors, a farmers' cooperative, which has set up a small SAS to produce oil from hemp seeds (the hemp seed), and a paint industrialist who uses this oil to produce biodegradable paint. "This little trinomial works well and its products are being marketed even if the volumes are less than expected.explained Stéphanie Raux. For example, biodegradable paint is used for beehives and white lines in football stadiums. »
The second example is a larger co-operative called Agrial. It has made an inventory of agricultural co-products, sixty of which are little or not valued: milk co-products, carrot tops, leek peelings... According to the head of Noveatech,"Agrial is in contact with a number of players in order to develop valorisation processes. For example, apple by-products are valorised in a soap factory".
The two best-known cases of territorial development are certainly the production of thistle oil in Sardinia by Novamont, and the Bazancourt-Pomacle biorefineryin the Marne. Novamont has made a name for itself by setting up a factory in Porto Torres on the north coast of Sardinia, working with the seeds of a thistle endemic to the region. This biorefinery uses the oil obtained in this way, in addition to starch, to make bio-sourced polymers, including the famous "Mater-Bi".
Mater-bi, extracted from the giant thistle. Novamont

Jean-Marie Chauvet, Project Manager BRI (Biorefinery Research & Innovation) at Agroindustrie Recherches et Développements (ARD) and Director of the Jacques de Bohan Foundation, presented the Bazancourt-Pomacle biorefinery: "It is rooted in a history of some thirty years in which farmers in the Reims region organized in cooperatives, both cereal and sugar producers, have sought to develop new outlets for agricultural products. The cooperative has collectively given itself the means to create research tools to explore new avenues. In Bazancourt, where a Cristal Union sugar factory existed, a cluster was developed, which was strengthened when a competitiveness cluster was set up in 2005. Today it is an essentially biosourced site with 1,200 direct jobs (and around 800 indirect jobs), 260 hectares, 1 million tonnes of wheat and 2.5 million tonnes of beet. »
Bazancourt-Pomacle refinery site
The site brings together a dozen actors who interact, a bit like in an ecosystem. Cristanol produces ethanol from wheat, sugar and co-products. Air Liquide recovers CO2. Vivescia stores cereals. A Futurol unit produces second-generation ethanol from lignocellulose. The Biorefinery Research and Innovation Platform (BRI) carries out projects under the third Future Investment Plan (PIA) "High Ambition Innovation Territories". The European Centre for Biotechnology and Bioeconomy (CEBB) is an entity which is being set up and in which AgroParisTech is participating. New players have emerged, such as Givaudan, which has taken over Soliance, a subsidiary specialised in cosmetic ingredients from ARD, the research centre of the co-operatives. The site also hosts startups born at the Genopole such as Global Bioenergies and Fermentalg to help them carry out their innovations, or a startup that produces surfactants for the detergent market.
"The biorefinery model can thus be adapted to the resources available, to various food and non-food activities, and to its capacity to support project leaders. An interface is developing between academic research (CEBB), which started from scratch on the site and now includes around fifty researchers, and applied research, with long-term support from local authorities such as the Departmental Council", congratulated Jean-Marie Chauvet.

Strategies in the making

"There is indeed a virtuous side to bringing the resource closer to its transformation in the territories.observed Emmanuelle Bour-Poitrinal, President of the "Forests, Waters and Territories" section of the CGAAER (General Council for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas), at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, during the third round table on "How stakeholders reconfigure their activities in a win-win mode": "At the initiative of local authorities, there is a real awareness of the development patterns of the Grand Est, Ile-de-France and Hauts de France. This goes hand in hand with a certain quality of life. Those in charge understand that it is possible to reconcile the city and the countryside and to show that these are regions where it is good to live. »
Equipped with these territorial foundations, bio-sourced products can help "reindustrialize Europe", said Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy: "We have the resource available. By paying attention to the food versus non-food competition, there is a way to recreate an industry around the localized biosource, generating local jobs with a new type of industry, such as a biorefinery, capable of being self-sufficient and part of the circular economy. This is an opportunity for France and for Europe! »
An opportunity that seems to be perceived by the French government, which launched the National Bioeconomy Strategy for France in February 2017, and in March 2018,  the 2018-2020 action plan. Pascal DupuisIn conclusion of the forum, the head of the Department of Economy, Evaluation and Integration of Sustainable Development (SEEIDD) at the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, said that the strategy is conducted in accordance with the objectives of the ecological transition, including the biodiversity plan and the climate plan, and with the National Low Carbon Strategy that accompanies the multi-year energy programming.
France's objective is indeed to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2050, i.e. zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Let's project ourselves in 30 years," continued Pascal Dupuis. What is the picture then? : "First, farming practices have changed: agriculture has halved its emissions. It continues to produce about the same volumes in a slightly changed climate. There are a number of non-food uses that provide a better income for the sector. Nevertheless, agriculture and livestock farming still emit greenhouse gases that we hope to offset through forest sinks, which are almost equivalent to today's emissions but which are being exploited much more, with a desire to extract as many substances and resources as possible and adapt them to climate change. The rest of the economy operates on zero carbon energy. Energy consumption has been halved with reasonable expectations of economic growth. Half of it is provided by decarbonised electricity, and half by bioenergy from all possible and imaginable forms of biomass, transformed into liquid or solid gas depending on its use. Trees are no longer burnt; the bioeconomy valorises all the products of the forest, transforming only co-products or waste into energy. »
This Table 2050 proposed by the governmentThis "implies a real change in the relationship between the economy and the living".pleaded Pascal Dupuis. Half the energy will come from photosynthesis. In terms of biomass, nothing will be thrown away. It's an important picture because it's only in thirty years. So things must change. »

Lift the brakes

But while we wait for these blessed times, we will have to remove a few obstacles to the development of bio-sourced products and, on the other side of the coin, know how to activate the right incentive factors. The afternoon's players identified several of them.
Starting with prices. Biosourced polymers are more expensive than conventional polymers. For the same use, the end user uses the least expensive, noted Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy. Biosourced paints are in this case, reported François-Xavier Dugripon, quoting Gérard Chevillard, head of sustainable development at PPG Industries, leader of the industrial painting in France : "The obstacles to the development of bio-based paints are primarily economic. They are difficult to be referenced by mass distribution because they are more expensive. » Moreover, consumer expectations of paints are primarily related to health (absence of volatile organic compounds, VOCs) and comfort (ease of application, durability), so the bio-based argument is not strong enough to justify buying more expensive paints, except for a small proportion of committed consumers.
To make matters worse, Alice Gueudet pointed out, most paints now have the "A+ label" for polluting emissions into the indoor air, and bio-sourced products can't be distinguished from them. In passing, she regretted that these emission labels no longer mean much. Environmental labelling, which had been put forward by the Grenelle de l'environnement, has been retained but on a voluntary basis by companies. Today, it is mainly developed at the European level using a methodology tested with companies, particularly in the food industry. This well-framed methodology was due to come out a few months ago, but it is still awaited. As for the compulsory nature of environmental labelling, it is still in question.
Another economic brake is on the producers' side. For example, in the building industry, but not only, "The processing tools used to manufacture bio-sourced products require major investments of several million or tens of millions of euros.according to Yves Hustache. The return on investment therefore requires a multi-year development plan. »
On the other hand, competition between renewable resources, for example between wood pellets and Miscanthus shavings or between hemp or wood wool insulation, is not really an issue, according to Emmanuel de Maupeou and Yves Hustache. Even if their prices and performances vary, the market to be conquered is large enough to leave room for everyone, and it is therefore preferable to to talk about complementarity.
In this economic context, is there a way for bio-based products to stand out from other products? For Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy, the best tactic is to "respond to a use that is not served by conventional polymers". Medical applications, for example, have needed bioassimilable or biocompatible polymers. In agriculture, plastics that prevent weeds from growing are full of soil and are therefore washable and recyclable only if you put a price tag on it. Biosourced and biodegradable bioplastics are of obvious interest here. Sandra Domenek added that the function of biosourced molecules is sometimes so interesting that it is fulfilled in unexpected areas: "For example, we did not anticipate the development of 3D printing with PLA (polylactic acid), nor its development in textiles. It's always exciting to see innovation slipping away from us and being adopted by others. »

Recycling biowaste

For the head of Novamont-France, one of the main levers for progress in biosourced energy is the recovery of organic waste, biowaste: "If we put aside bio-waste to make quality compost, we need containers, bags for the community: it is therefore a boulevard for this type of material, provided that the organic waste is recovered. »
This should be the case once the European directive on waste has been transposed by July 2020. In its latest version (Article 22), it provides that "Member States shall ensure that by 31 December 2023 at the latest [...] bio-waste is either sorted and recycled at source or collected separately and not mixed with other types of waste"(1).
This lack of mixing is crucial. In countries that have already developed organic waste recovery, "Obtaining quality compost is fundamental because we want the compost, a sort of humus, to return the organic matter to the soil. But if there's plastic in the compost, it's a big problem. » This problem will disappear as soon as compostable plastics become dominant in the food packaging market.
As noted by several forum participants, biosourced food is also constrained by regulations and standards. "What prevents the professional recognition of a building made of load-bearing straw and thus the insurability of a building owner? "asked one young woman. To which Yves Hustache replied that the rules relating to building The "building system" requirements require the characteristics of the building system to be validated so that the entire value chain can be reassured about the building's durability. The difficulty is then to define different evaluation and validation methods and procedures for a straw building, and this takes more time, especially since the whole value chain must also be convinced with concrete elements. »
So it's a matter of time, but nothing prohibitive. Other factors are perhaps more complex because they are sociological. For example, with regard to Miscanthus, Emmanuel de Maupeau has highlighted a resistance to change in the agricultural and construction worlds: "The model of perennial crops instead of rotational crops is having a hard time getting through. Miscanthus also has a big disadvantage: it is light but it cannot be transported because it is very bulky, so it is limited to local use. Its use in combustion requires a minimum of technological training since the ashes have to be removed from the boiler. It is not as simple as pressing a button. »
Here too, the answer to these obstacles may come from the new solutions provided by this culture. NovaBiom is a partner in two H2020 projects on the use of so-called marginal lands, i.e. lands unsuitable for food production (polluted, too saline, dry or too wet): GRACE (GRowing Advanced Industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorefineries) and MAGIC (Marginal lands for Growing Industrial Crops: Turning a burden into an opportunity). This may eventually convince some farmers of the potential of the plant to provide additional income for some farmers.

Technical brakes and actor training

Christophe Doukki de Boissoudy echoed another type of brake, this time technical, the recycling of bio-sourced materials: "It is desirable that bioplastics can be recovered in the same way as fossil-based plastics (...), that they do not disrupt recycling channels, as in the case of opaque PET bottles, which cannot be recycled with other packaging above a certain threshold. »
In the same vein, Sandra Domenek has clearly shown that innovation must remain a driving force in the development of bio-based products. In response to a participant's question about the inspiration that research can find in nature, particularly for materials and design, she noted the existence of new research avenues such as self-associative systems, which make it possible to create scratch-resistant self-healing materials, or work on specific roughnesses of hydrophobic surfaces for high-tech applications. "But beware! Packaging is supposed to be cheap, and you shouldn't go too far, she warned.
These technical and scientific obstacles and, conversely, the corresponding levers, obviously imply training stakeholders in biosourced products, either in the form of open educational workshops or in the framework of approved training courses. Universities and grandes écoles contribute to this, as well as public bodies such as the Paris Climate Agency (APC) and private companies. This is for example the case of Karibati in the building industry, presented Yves Hustache : "The project owner and the project manager must be accompanied and then choose the appropriate solutions themselves. Even if some architects are well trained in biosourced solutions, there is generally still a need to raise their awareness and we have been organising an architectural competition for several years now to raise the profession's awareness of these issues. » For example, according to Alice Gueudet, the environmental and health declaration sheets (FDES), which present the results of the LCA of a construction product, are a major methodological and therefore training issue. According to a 2016 study, the defect of a bio-based material is often not attributable to the material itself but to the way it is used. (2).

Revaluing nature capital and plant production

Basically, analyzed  Emmanuelle Bour-Poitrinal,  the major obstacle is undoubtedly the absence of an economic model that takes into account the renewability of biomass and the value of "natural capital": "Considering that the bioeconomy is an alternative economy to the fossil economy, we must admit that we are no longer in a quantitative linear vision of resource consumption, but in a systemic vision of resource production. However, neither intellectually nor economically have economic models been found that take into account the renewability of matter: this is a lock. "In other words, since there is no remuneration for renewability, there is little incentive for a biomass owner to valorize it. Not surprisingly, given that there is no compensation for renewability, there is little interest for a biomass owner in adding value to it.Today, "only 60 % of the annual growth of the forest in France is mobilized. (...) If you are the generation ripe to exploit the forest you will probably wait for the next generation because you will have more problems than returns to exploit your plots, and you will not be comfortable enough to finance regeneration. »
In the same vein, one participant was almost outraged: "We are in an economic paradigm inherited from the 18th century and Adam Smith in which the consumption of manufacturing capital has a cost, the consumption of labour has a cost, but the consumption of nature does not. How can we move to another paradigm in which we would lower the cost of the first two, which would reduce unemployment, and in which we would put a price on the consumption of natural capital? »
In addition to this lack of consideration of the "value of nature", the potential developers are in a global market that subjects them to a double competition, deplored Emmanuelle Bour-Poitrinal: On the one hand on prices from countries where labour is cheaper, and on the other hand on environmental regulations that are applied unevenly, including within the European Union, whether on plant protection products, water, etc.". »
Moreover, the price of land is completely disconnected from the value of production, even in France : "Land costs and capital assets are disproportionate to the profitability of the land, to the value of the resource. The reason why we're keeping pretty much the same concept of farming in this country is because we have a policy that keeps the farm connected to the land through leasing and through the work of the Land Development and Rural Settlement Corporations (LRSs). But here too we are coming to the end of a cycle. »
For the president of the "Forests, Water and Territories" section, there are avenues for inventing new farming models: market gardening on the outskirts of towns, organic farming, etc. But for large-scale industrial farming, it is imperative to "to find springs to revalorize production, to allow agroecological conversions, while maintaining objectives of increasing production on less space". This can be, downstream, through the optimal use of the plant, the cascade use of fibres and molecules, etc. And then, upstream, via a more agronomic approach: "To enable the farm to reduce its input costs and increase its energy and mineral autonomy in a context where certain mineral amendments may be in disruption". For example with a methanizer, to produce gas and recover a digestate that will be spread to bring minerals and organic matter to the soil.
"The methaniser would have the advantage of putting the farmer back at the centre of the carbon cycle. It could also regain a role in society by reprocessing bio-waste from cities, thus allowing the return of organic matter to the soil.
Rachel Kolbe-Semhoun, responsible for the cooperative group's strategic plan InVivoAs a major witness, he also seemed very aware of the inadequacy of the economic context for the development of the biosourced resource, and of the gap between environmental issues and a reality that is evolving too slowly at his whim: "Many initiatives in the bioeconomy are excellent, there is a real wealth of biomass in France, a great asset, a human will, and the Paris agreements that have recalled the enormous stake in the climate. More and more players are looking for substitutes for petro-sourced products. Agriculture could return to the heart of the new renewable economies. This is the challenge that the InVivo group wants to take up, wondering what would be the right ways to move forward on the bio-economy. But we haven't yet succeeded in transforming the economy. What's the sticking point? How do we manage to build in spite of the system in place? No one has talked about the lobbies in the current system. How is it that we can grow hemp and industrialize it but it's hard to get certified?"
The levers highlighted by the forum speakers may only be a partial answer to these questions. We must no doubt continue to explore the question of the externalities of bio-based production, i.e. the effects that do not enter into a market valuation, and in particular better consider the positive externalities of agriculture, suggested Emmanuelle Bour-Poitrinal.
As Dorothée Browaeys proposed in conclusion, saying "we're getting out of oil" may in itself be a value for "building the world after", and bring a majority of our fellow citizens to participate in the workcamp. Indeed, as studies in socio-psychology have shown, "we are getting out of oil" can be in itself a value for "building the world after", and bring a majority of our fellow citizens to participate in the workcamp. (3), Shared values are central to changing behaviour and going beyond ephemeral commitments based on "opportunities" (tax reduction for example).
This forum showed once again how the bioeconomy is confronted with accounting systems that are blind to natural capital and therefore do nothing to ensure its sustainability.
This will be the theme of the next BIORESP forum on October 16, 2018.
  1. Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste. Text of 30/05/2018, published in the Official Journal of the EU on 14/06/2018.
  2. Ministère de l'environnement, de l'énergie et de la mer/Ministère du logement et de l'habitat durable, & Karibati, Structuration et développement des filières de matériaux de construction biosourcés, Plan d'actions n° 2, avancées et perspectives, October 2016. www.cohesion-territoires.gouv.frIMGpdfstructuration_et_developpement_des_filieres_de_materiaux_de_con struction_biosources_--_October_2016.pd
  3. A. Lammel, Changement climatique : de la perception à l'action, Les Notes de la FEP, n°5, September 2015.

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