Monitoring sustainability effects of the bioeconomy: a material flow based approach using the example of softwood lumber and its core product epal 1 pallet
The transition of our current economic system towards a bioeconomy that is based on renewable materials and energy can be an important contribution but at the same time a threat to mitigate the challenges of the 21st century, such as global warming and resource depletion.To assess societal, economic, and environmental impacts associated with this transition, we propose an approach for a sustainability assessment as an integral part of a future bioeconomy monitoring concept. The assessment approach is based on material flow analyses of the bioeconomy and their core products. As a proof of applicability, the proposed assessment approach is exemplified for the materialflow of softwood lumber and its core product ‘EPAL 1 pallet’. To simulate a frequent monitoring,material flow analysis and assessment of six sustainability effects are applied for the years 2010 and2015. Since a frequent bioeconomy monitoring requires regularly updated and quality assured data,official statistics should be the major source of information. Whereas cutoff thresholds, nondisclosure of data, and high level of aggregation are major limitations of official production statistics and for material flow analysis, lack of information regarding environmental effects is the major limitation for material flow related sustainability assessment. We make suggestions on how to overcome these limitations and put our approach in to context with other ongoing monitoring activities.