The “Center for Sustainable and Circular Bioeconomy and Energy [Aegean_BIOECONOMY]” of the Department of Environment at the University of the Aegean on the island of Lesvos, aims to support the insular regions of North and South Aegean in the transition from a linear to a circular bioeconomy model.
The bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources (animals, plants, micro-organisms and derived biomass, including organic waste), their functions and principles. It includes and interlinks: land and marine ecosystems and the services they provide; all primary production sectors that use and produce biological resources (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture); and all economic and industrial sectors that use biological resources and processes to produce food, feed, bio-based products, energy and services. To be successful, the European bioeconomy needs to have sustainability and circularity at its heart. This will drive the renewal of our industries, the modernisation of our primary production systems, the protection of the environment and will enhance biodiversity[i]
The transition to a circular bioeconomy will be further reinforced through the development and uptake of innovative technologies as well as the training of scientists and researchers through the collaborative ecosystem at the national and international levels.
The holistic approach of Aegean_BIOECONOMY combines the recovery and valorization of biological resources, promotion of sustainability and protection of the natural environment. It is organized into four (4) distinctive project activities, which will lead to the development of innovative services and platforms in the regions of interest in the North and South Aegean:
1. Bio_mass Sustainable production and management of biomass
2. Nature4water Sustainable water resources and soil management using nature-based solutions
3. RE_ Product Recycling of materials and production of new products
4. Hotel_ Footprinting Reduction of the environmental footprint in the tourism industry
At the same time, the project’s activities will contribute to the development of new regional strategies in line with the requirements of the environmental legislation.
A particular objective of the project is the adoption of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy making sure it reflects the specific conditions of the island regions. This can lead to new jobs, contribution to achieving carbon neutrality, shift to the circular economy model, harnessing of healthy natural ecosystem as well as modernisation and strengthening of the industry.
The kick-off meeting of the research project “Center for Sustainable and Circular Bioeconomy [Aegean_BIOECONOMY]” was held on February 4th, 2021. The project is co-funded by the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF), in the framework of the Operational Programme “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship & Innovation EPAnEK 2014-2020”, Invitation no 111 “Regional Excellence in R&D Infrastructures”.
This project is coordinated by the Waste Management Laboratory of the Department of Environment, University of the Aegean. Associate Professor Demetris F. Lekkas is the scientific coordinator. Furthermore, fifteen (15) teaching staff members from three (3) university departments as well as five (5) special technical laboratory staff are part of the project team, while thirty (30) new job positions have been created (25 researcher positions and 5 positions for technical and administrative support of the project). The collaborating laboratories are the following:
1. Waste Management Laboratory, Department of Environment
2. Water and Air Quality Laboratory, Department of Environment
3. Energy Management Laboratory, Department of Environment
4. Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment
5. Acoustic Ecology Lab, Department of Environment
6. Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory, Department of Engineering, Economics and Management
7. Integrated Industrial Design Laboratory, Department of Product & Systems Design
8. Laboratory for Environmental Policy and Strategic Environmental Management, Department of Environment
The duration of the project is 30 months and the total budget is 1.374.01,37 €.
[i] European Commission (2018), A sustainable Bioeconomy for Europe: Strengthening the connection between economy, society and the environment