Towards Circular Bioeconomy in the Czech Republic: the identification of sustainable business cases for agricultural residues
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Biomass is projected to play an important role in accomplishing European Union’s (EU) climate targets. Biomass sources are, however, limited and a resource efficient focus is needed. A novel concept of Circular Bioeconomy (CBE) has been put forward which aims at utilizing biomass residues in an effective manner. This thesis tests this concept on a national level in the Czech Republic. Material Flow Analysis (MFA) was employed in order to map the current state of play in the Czech agriculture as well as to measure the degree of circularity. Primary (straw), secondary (e.g. husk) and tertiary residues (food waste) along with conventional biomass types were estimated and visualized in a Sankey diagram. This was followed by analyzing barriers to mobilizing the available primary residues with a farmers’ survey and an expert roundtable workshop. Finally, a literature review was employed in order to identify possible business cases utilizing the primary residues in the bio-based industries. The level of circularity was assessed at 43 % with straw, manure and digestate as the most significant biomass flows in the Czech agriculture. The sustainable potential of primary residues was estimated at approximately 1.5 Mtdry although its mobilization is substantially hindered by the lack of clarity regarding local sustainable removal rates and by the unwillingness of the farmers to supply the biomass. This underlines the necessity to include social dimension in the CBE concept and to take a more regional and bottom-up focus. This research indicates also untapped potential for the case of secondary and tertiary residues which were estimated at around 0.9 Mtdry and 0.3 Mtdry. Both the roundtable workshop and the literature review on business cases highlighted the biobased chemical sector as a promising end-use market for primary residues although other segments might be more promising from GHG mitigation perspective.