The third annual Canadian BioDesign Conference was held on virtually this year between September 09-11, 2020.
With respect to registrations, over 400 people registered with over 50 organizations represented. These registrants came from across the country and the globe representing industries, agencies and governments, to support and discuss the focus of the conference, the Canadian Bioeconomy Strategy.
Canada’s first bioeconomy strategy was released on May 14, 2019 which reflects the views of more than 400 industry representatives from across the country. The report was produced by BIC in partnership with the proponents of the BioDesign consortium.
The BioDesign consortium is led by BIC, BioNB, FPInnovations, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and BIOTECanada. The purpose of the consortium is to develop and commercialize new bio-based products and biomass-to-bioproducts technologies that will transform Canada’s abundant and sustainable biomass resources.
The objective of this BioDesign conference was to further the discussions around the bioeconomy and a shift toward a low-carbon economy.
The conference panels focused on three themes:
- Leveraging Biomass for Sustainable Bioproducts
- Transforming to a Low Carbon Economy, and
- Disrupting the Linear Economy and Going Circular
Most presentations from the panel participants are available on the BioDesign website here: https://canadabiodesign.com/locations/ or directly on our YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV9uUAKlKnGyg1SFuGaUSiA
- Stephane Renou, CEO, FPInnovations
- Dex Hsu, General Manager, LCY
- Bill Greuel, President, Protein Industries Supercluster
- Joop Groen, Member of Executive Board, Circular Biobased Delta
The vision of Canada’s Bioeconomy Strategy is to promote the highest valorization of Canadian biomass and residuals while promoting the objectives of a reduced carbon footprint and effective stewardship of natural capital for generations.
The development of a vigorous bioeconomy is the platform that will help society address environmental challenges and continue the evolution of biorefineries that will reduce Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels. The benefits will be sustainable economic growth, particularly for rural economies, and the creation of new highly skilled jobs.
Outcomes by ED of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), Sandy Marshall
The BioDesign Virtual Conference kicked off on Day 1 with a panel discussion focused on Canada’s Bioeconomy Strategy and its vision of Canada’s to promote the highest valorization of Canadian biomass and residuals while promoting the objectives of a reduced carbon footprint and effective stewardship of natural capital for generations.
The panel focused on the impact the bioeconomy can have on enabling the economic advancement of the forestry and agriculture sectors. It was clear from the discussions with Stéphane Renou that the traditional production of forest products such as paper, tissue and building materials must be expanded to include industrial bioproducts to take advantage of the available forestry biomass. Bill Greuel noted that the agri-food sector, particularly protein production, can advance successfully only when co-products such as starch and processing plant wastes are valorized. A Canadian commercial example was provided by Dex Hsu of LCY Biosciences which are producing succinic acid and planning to produce other specialty fermentation products in Sarnia Ontario. Joop Groen gave the audience an appreciation of the commercial activities taking place in Europe which should be seen as a preview of what more can happen in Canada if there is support for development of the industrial bioeconomy.
The message was clear that the development of a vigorous bioeconomy is the platform that will help society address environmental challenges and continue the evolution of biorefineries that will reduce Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels. The benefits will be sustainable economic growth, particularly for rural economies, and the creation of new highly skilled jobs.
- Dan Pfeffer, Public Affairs Advisors
- Patrick Lavoie, Senior Scientist, Environment and Sustainability, FPInnovations
- Christopher Bush, Catalyst Power
- Fred Ghatala, Advisor, GARDN
Using renewable raw materials for the production of fuels and carbon sequestration in long life bioproducts are powerful strategies to transform Canada to a low carbon economy. Today, the biofuels, bioenergy and building construction materials sectors are challenged in most jurisdictions to compete with the size and scale of the fossil carbon-based competitors. Government regulation and policy is required to enable this nascent industry to innovate and grow to a scale where they can compete effectively with the incumbent.
One successful example has been the implementation of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in California and British Columbia. Canada is now embarking on a parallel policy approach through its Renewable Fuel Standard. Parallel opportunities exist for the support of low carbon bioproducts such as tall building wood construction, biopolymers and biocarbon that can sequester carbon for long durations.
Outcomes by President & CEO BIOTECanada, Andrew Casey:
Using renewable materials for the production of fuels and carbon sequestration in long life bioproducts are powerful strategies to transform Canada to a low carbon economy. Government regulation and policy is required to enable this nascent industry to innovate and grow to a scale where they can compete effectively. Panelists for this session provided an enlightening overview of how Canada is pressing forward with initiatives that will help meet the nation’s sustainability & bioeconomic goals.
Dan Pfeffer of Public Affairs Advisors kicked off day two with a glimpse into trends in Canadian low carbon fuel policy to illustrate what has changed over time and what challenges lay ahead. Notably, the proposed Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) targets 30 megatonnes of GHG reductions by reducing the carbon intensity of fuel that is used in Canada. This could be a game changer for low carbon fuel policy in Canada, however with more than a year left before finalization, the CFS relies on current and future political powers. Fred Ghalata of Advanced Biofuels Canada shared a complementary perspective on clean fuel policy design. Recently implemented standards are increasing adoption beyond biofuel blend requirements, and are expanding to include upstream and downstream petroleum GHG reduction opportunities.
Christopher Bush of Catalyst Agri-Innovations Society shared some insightful case studies showing us that we already have the technology to move forward into a low carbon economy using the concept of industrial symbiosis. By harnessing pathways such as anaerobic digestion in agriculture and beyond, by creating partnerships that improve resource utilization, and by aggressively embracing carbon-negative food systems, we are on our way to making a huge environmental difference. Dovetailing with these ideas, Patrick Lavoie of FPInnovations shared how climate change mitigation by 2030 is possible through the forest sector. A long-term forest management strategy allows for a steady increase in forest carbon stocks through afforestation, while also maintaining a sustainable timber supply to increase Canada’s exports and competitiveness in the industry.
The discussion that followed helped set the table for next steps in terms of policies that will drive Canada forward in both economic rebuild and environmental sustainability.
- Dirk Carrez, Executive Director, BIConsortium
- Freek van Eijk, Vice President, Circular BioBased Delta
- Tracy Casavant, Managing Director, NISP Canada and Circular Economy , Light House
- Dave Smardon, Executive Director, Bioenterprise
The current economic model is based on a linear approach of TAKE – MAKE – DISCARD. It is now broadly recognized that this economic model can not continue as resources are limited to what is available on the planet Earth. This model is being disrupted by climate change and moving to a circular economic model is essential for the long term survival of mankind on this planet. How can we change our manufacturing mentality with programs that recover, recycle and reuse effectively and efficiently? The Europeans have embraced circularity as core to their climate change initiatives and have identified pathways where the circular bioeconomy can provide additional low carbon benefits.
Outcomes by BioNB ED, Jennifer O’Donnell:
With grand challenges like global population growth, climate change, resource constraints and the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments and industries are moving to a circular economy model to solve these problems. This panel focused on disrupting the linear manufacturing mindset of take, make and discard and designing more circular systems for the products that consumers use and rely on. Given the biomass resources in Canada, there are many opportunities for biotechnologies, biomass and bio-based products in the circular model. In this panel, four experts from the not-for-profit sector shared their perspectives on circular bioeconomy policies, practices and opportunities.
Dirk Carrez introduced Europe’s Bio-based Industries Consortium and explained their focus on building new bio-based value chains. In European economic policy, a line can be drawn from straight from the bioeconomy to the circular economy, through to plans for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as a circular bioeconomy is a crucial part of the The European Green Deal, which was recently integrated into Europe’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan. Through a 3.7 billion Euro public private partnership, Bio-based Industries Consortium funds research and infrastructure projects from TRL 3 to TRL 8. Over the past five years this program (BBI JU) has increased the involvement of brand owners in the circular bioeconomy, increased private investment in Europe and fostered new collaborations.
Freek van Eijk from Circular Biobased Delta spoke about the transition to a circular bioeconomy in the Netherlands. Biomass and food make up one of five priority sectors for the transition to a fully circular economy by 2050. To illustrate the opportunities in going bio-circular, Freek shared some examples of innovations in agri-food, plastic packaging, chemical recycling and built environment. Feed ingredients from soldier flies, leather-like materials from mango peels, and renewable “bio-asphalt” are just some of the technologies that have been commercialized recently. A key takeaway was that the development of the circular and bioeconomies will require involvement from business, governments and many other actors; it will be challenging to align this large and diverse set of stakeholders to effect change.
In contrast to the prominence and awareness of the circular model in Europe, Dave Smardon reminded us that the circular economy, particularly as it related to food and agriculture, is less widely know in Canada. His organization, Bioenterprise is a national business accelerator in food and agri-tech. Dave described the way that innovative companies are classified (especially with the antiquated term “clean tech”) leads to very few circular economy companies being recognized as such. Several municipalities in Canada are pursuing a circular food economy and Bioenterprise is working to increase awareness, develop projects and increase collaboration amongst supporters of the bio-circular economy.
Tracy Casavant from Light House gave a presentation about her efforts to foster industrial symbiosis initiatives in Canada under the NISP model. Industrial symbiosis occurs when one business or sector takes underutilized resources from another to improve resource utilization and productivity. The NISP Canada Pilot uncovered over 160 synergies in a short time, with a significant portion involving bio-based wastes such as off-spec fruits, used pallets, pine husks and spent mushroom compost. Tracy’s vision for developing Canada’s circular bioeconomy involves the deployment of bioeconomy symbiosis facilitators across the country, facilitated matching workshops, digital marketplaces and the collaboration of many supporters across the country.
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