The German government has recently initiated funding schemes that incentivize strategies for wood-based bioeconomy regions. Regional wood and chemical industries have been encouraged to act symbiotically, that is, share pilot plant facilities, couple processes where feasible, and cascade woody feedstock throughout their process networks. However, during the planning stages of these bioeconomy regions, options need to be assessed for sustainably integrating processes and energy integration between the various industries that produce bio-based polymers and engineered wood products. The aim of this paper is to identify the environmental sustainability of industrial symbiosis for producing high-value-added, bio-based products in the wood-based bioeconomy region of Central Germany. An analysis was conducted of three possible future scenarios with varying degrees of symbiosis in the bioeconomy network. A life cycle assessment (LCA) approach was used to compare these three scenarios to a traditional fossil-based production system. Eleven environmental impact categories were considered. The results show that, in most cases, the bioeconomy network outperformed the fossil-based production system, mitigating environmental impacts by 25% to 130%.
- industrial ecology
- industrial symbiosis
- integrated industrial production networks
- life cycle assessment
- lignocellulosic biorefineries
- wood-based bioeconomy