The current economic system is based on linear value chains with continuous and increasing extraction of raw materials and disregard for them after the use. Currently, only around 10% of total material extracted is cycled back into the economy, closing our resource loops, whereas the 90% of raw materials necessary to fuel our economy is extracted from lands, processed, used, and then simply discarded. This linear system has devastating impacts on all ecosystem services (including biodiversity loss, soil degradation and water quality) and climate change. To enable a sustainable production, we need to move from the traditional “take-make-waste” economic model toward one that is regenerative by design. Transformation toward a circular bioeconomy is crucial to solving our most pressing societal issues.
The use of the circular economy can be thought of as a society in which bio-based processes contribute to a significant share of economic production guided by principles of sustainable development and environmental sustainability. The benefits that our society can obtain are many and concern the long-term preservation of environmental factors essential for life, such as biodiversity, drinking water, clean air, soil fertility and favourable climate conditions, the enhancement of renewable resources, the technological capacity to develop alternatives to the exhaustion of non-renewable resources, the decoupling between economic growth and environmental degradation, the reduction of the quantity of resources used and pollution created per unit produced.
The development of a new circular economy is based on three fundamental points: the use of renewable biomass, the development of new biotechnologies and the integration of these technologies in the various sectors of our society ranging from industrial processes to the valorization and recovery of wastes. The future of circular economy will be shaped not only by the new scientific discoveries and their applications, but also by the design and implementation of public policies and new markets and business models that will require actors with novel, advanced and heterogeneous knowledge.
The ambitious aim of this Winter School is to provide a comprehensive overview of different topics related to circular economy, and to discuss them among PhD students and scientists having a different scientific background.
The PhD Winter School will consist of four sessions:
- Multiple bio-products by biorefinery from organic waste and waste waters
- Microalgae in the circular economy
- Microorganisms for waste recycling: potential producers of high value bio-based products
- Waste biomass utilization, sustainable soil management and climate change mitigation