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Principles, drivers and opportunities of a circular bioeconomy

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 25 August 2021


A circular, bio-based economy could provide the pathway to a sustainable future. Here we present five ecological principles to guide biomass use towards a circular bioeconomy: safeguarding and regenerating the health of our (agro)ecosystems; avoiding non-essential products and the waste of essential ones; prioritizing biomass streams for basic human needs; utilizing and recycling by-products of (agro)ecosystems; and using renewable energy while minimizing overall energy use. Implementing these principles calls for a transformation of our current economic system, including fundamental changes to policies, technologies, organizations, social behaviour and markets.

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Fig. 1: Biomass flows in a circular bioeconomy.


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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement no. 689669. The present work reflects only the authors’ views and the funding agency cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors wrote the paper. I.J.M.d.B. and M.K.v.I. conceptualized the principles. A.M., I.J.M.d.B., E.M.d.O. and R.R.-B. conceptualized and expanded the principles. A.M., I.J.M.d.B., E.M.d.O., H.H.E.v.Z. were responsible for visualization. A.M. prepared the original draft. E.M.d.O., R.R.-B., H.H.E.V.Z., T.A.P.M., C.J.A.M.T., M.K.v.I. and I.J.M.d.B. supervised, reviewed and edited.

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Correspondence to Abigail Muscat.

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Peer review information Nature Food thanks Nick Holden, Trisha Toop and Bruce Dale for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Muscat, A., de Olde, E.M., Ripoll-Bosch, R. et al. Principles, drivers and opportunities of a circular bioeconomy. Nat Food 2, 561–566 (2021).

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