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The biobased economy must become part of an overarching renewable carbon strategy. To make that possible, a future-oriented materials policy is needed for the chemical and plastics industry, says Michael Carus, founder and director of the German nova Institute.
Editorial office / Hürth

In energy policy, the term “decarbonization” has become quite popular. But that term is unusable for the materials sector and even pure nonsense for organic chemistry, which is based on carbon. Instead, according to Carus, we should talk about ‘renewable carbon’: a collective name for all carbon sources that avoid or replace the use of extra fossil carbon from the geosphere.

Essential for transition

Renewable carbon can come from the atmosphere (via carbon capture and utilization, CCU), biosphere (through the use of biomass) or technosphere (through recycling or CCU) – but not from the geosphere. ‘These are the only three sources of renewable carbon: recycling, biobased and CO2-based. They are essential for a complete transition to renewable carbon, and they must all be used in the same way by industry and supported by politics. ”

According to Carus, which option will prevail is not relevant. “That must be determined by technology and market forces and not by policy. This depends on regional factors and specific applications. ” The only conceivable possibility, however, is that advocates of the biobased, recycling and CCU options will compete with each other. “In that case, there will only be one winner: fossil carbon!”