Interview with Christophe Rupp-Dahlem, President of the Industry Agro Resources cluster (IAR) and Director of Global Public Affairs, Roquette Group.
A collective awareness is leading industries to commit to an ecological transition: from biomass to a bioeconomy, green growth is a challenge that will shape the world’s future. At the heart of energy policies, decarbonisation appears to have become a global goal.
Replacing components that come from the petrochemical industry with renewable resources is a process still subject to economic constraints, yet could respond to future challenges.
The Industry Agro Resources cluster (IAR) is a major player in France’s bioeconomy and with 450 members, includes world leaders in the production and processing of biomass, such as Roquette. Roquette is a pioneer in plant protein research.
Supporting players with their innovation projects in favour of the bioeconomy is the purpose of the IAR cluster, to which Christophe Rupp-Dahlem has dedicated more than 10 years of his life. The cluster’s president defines the bioeconomy as the biomass production and processing activities for food, industrial and energy production.
From the field to the consumer, agricultural materials are transformed into numerous solutions for industry and, everyday applications. Although plant-based chemistry existed long before the discovery of oil, it appears to be gradually regaining its place within the industry in response to climate challenges.
Today, more and more firms want to reduce their carbon footprint by using bio-sourced molecules, but price still appears to impede their development.
Among the 17.5 million people concerned by the bioeconomy in Europe, the food processing market alone accounts for 50% of outlets in terms of volume.
Other sectors, such as cosmetics or pharmaceuticals, are developing from the use of biomass to develop by replacing controversial components or by creating products that stand out and offer new properties.
The target to achieve 20% of chemicals produced from renewable resources has not yet been reached, but trends are optimistic, particularly in speciality markets where new applications are developing, such as paints and varnishes, while bio-sourced products are favoured by the introduction of laws that regulate the environmental impact of products.
As a producer of process fluids and an active member of the IAR, Climalife has been at the forefront of bio-sourced molecule research: from betaine to plant fermentation in its formulations, Climalife can today testify to the growing interest of clients in its niche products.
As fossil resources become increasingly scarce, biomass not only preserves them but could also be a factor in the performance of industries.
Energy efficiency, cost control, product diversification and the development of the circular economy all serve to boost competitiveness effectively.
Stepping up research into industrial biotechnologies and procedures that use far less energy and are therefore of greater benefit to the life cycle of a product would enable the industry to prepare for the future at a time when many companies are committing themselves to a zero carbon roadmap.
Investing in innovation to prepare for the molecules of the future and working side by side to convince interested markets is key to the future of bio-sourced products.
There are opportunities to be found in innovative products that have a better carbon footprint than oil-based products on the market. The development of bio-sourced products clearly still remains tied to the price of oil and the right combination of investment costs and environmental impact must be found for the future.
« Tomorrow’s challenge for the industry is to learn how to implement decarbonisation by trying to limit CO2 emissions associated with energy use and processing procedures. » concludes Christophe Rupp-Dahlem.