Waste or resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy - Science and Technology Committee Contents


25 July 2013

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord Krebs, is conducting an inquiry into waste and the bioeconomy. The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit written evidence as part of the inquiry.


The inquiry focuses on the technology used to exploit bio-waste and waste gases in order to generate high-value products. Bio-waste is produced by agriculture (crops and livestock), forestry, food processing and households. Waste gases arise from heavy industry and large chemical complexes. Approaches are being developed using, for example, biotechnology and green chemistry, to make use of these waste sources and extract high-value products. These high value products include chemicals, polymers, bio-materials and bio-fuels.

The Committee would welcome written submissions on the type of activities currently underway in this area from basic research through to commercialisation. The inquiry aims to collect evidence on the potential for this technology to enable bio-waste and waste gas to replace current feedstocks and the potential contribution this could make to a bioeconomy.

The inquiry will look at whether there is a clear route to allow the potential of this technology to be realised, whether the UK is making the most of the opportunities presented by this technology and how it can be competitive within Europe and internationally. The Committee will consider whether more should be done to promote basic and applied research and development or to remove regulatory or market barriers to commercialisation. It is timely to examine whether Government has a joined-up strategic approach to funding, policy and regulation in this area. The deadline for written evidence submissions is Friday, 27 September 2013.


The Committee invites submissions on the following points, with practical examples where possible. Please only answer the questions of relevance to you. Please also do draw the Committee's attention to any relevant issues not captured in the specific questions below:


·  What research is underway to enable high-value products to be derived from bio-waste and waste gas feedstocks and what problems could this help to solve?

·  Where does the waste come from and is there a reliable supply?

·  Is it environmentally and economically viable to make use of such technologies using waste as a feedstock?

·  How strong is the UK's research base in this area relative to the rest of the world?


·  How large is the current market and what types of products generated from bio-waste and waste gas are currently commercially available? How does this compare to elsewhere in the world?

·  Are there appropriate mechanisms in place to facilitate commercialisation?

·  Which types of products will be on the market in five, ten and twenty years from now and which factors will influence this?

·  What is the potential contribution of this technology to a bioeconomy?


·  Do Government, the Research Councils and the Technology Strategy Board have a co-ordinated funding strategy for this area? Are effective mechanisms in place for funding cross disciplinary research?

·  Does Government have a joined up approach to policy and regulation, which effectively supports the growth of this area?

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