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Studying the Transition towards a Circular Bioeconomy—A Systematic Literature Review on Transition Studies and Existing Barriers

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The European Commission’s strategic long-term vision for 2050, “A Clean Planet for All”, identifies the bioeconomy and the circular economy as key strategic areas for achieving a climate-neutral economy. Focus is given to the sustainability of biomass and the circularity of materials. However, in order to facilitate the transition toward a sustainable bio-based circular economy and to unlock its potential, strong accompanying measures are required. These should be designed based on a systematic understanding of transition drivers and barriers. This paper, after providing a systematic review of transition research on the circular bioeconomy, focuses on the identification and classification of transition barriers, clustering them into relevant categories. Moreover, it provides a comparison of the barriers identified by various frameworks.
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sustainability
Article
Studying the Transition towards a Circular
Bioeconomy—A Systematic Literature Review on
Transition Studies and Existing Barriers
Alexandra Gottinger 1, Luana Ladu 1, * and Rainer Quitzow 1,2
1
Institut für Technologie und Management, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), 10623 Berlin, Germany;
alexandra.gottinger@tu-berlin.de (A.G.); rainer.quitzow@iass-potsdam.de (R.Q.)
2Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V., 14467 Potsdam, Germany
*Correspondence: luana.ladu@tu-berlin.de
Received: 1 October 2020; Accepted: 27 October 2020; Published: 29 October 2020


Abstract:
The European Commission’s strategic long-term vision for 2050, “A Clean Planet for
All”, identifies the bioeconomy and the circular economy as key strategic areas for achieving a
climate-neutral economy. Focus is given to the sustainability of biomass and the circularity of
materials. However, in order to facilitate the transition toward a sustainable bio-based circular
economy and to unlock its potential, strong accompanying measures are required. These should
be designed based on a systematic understanding of transition drivers and barriers. This paper,
after providing a systematic review of transition research on the circular bioeconomy, focuses on
the identification and classification of transition barriers, clustering them into relevant categories.
Moreover, it provides a comparison of the barriers identified by various frameworks.
Keywords: bioeconomy; circular economy; transition studies; transition barriers
1. Introduction
The development of a sustainable bioeconomy has been identified as a key building block in
the fight against climate change, while simultaneously addressing the increasing demand for food,
feed, energy, materials and products [
1
]. Indeed, almost 50 countries around the globe recently
adopted national bioeconomy strategies as a pathway towards more sustainable ways of production,
especially regarding to the achievements of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) [
2
].
However, the bioeconomy is not automatically sustainable [
3
]. The existence of diverse conflicting
goals requires to always consider both positive and negative eects [
4
] and to develop and implement
sustainably criteria in relation to social environmental and economic aspects.
The concept of bioeconomy is often related to the circular economy, “where the value of products,
materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of
waste minimized” [
5
]. The European Commission’s strategic long-term vision for 2050, “A Clean
Planet for All”, identifies both concepts as key strategic areas for achieving a climate-neutral economy,
highlighting the importance of sustainable biomass production and processing and the circularity
of materials [
6
]. However, in order to facilitate the transition toward a sustainable bio-based,
circular economy and to unlock its potential, strong accompanying measures and an enabling policy
framework are required.
The literature on sustainability transitions argues that, to be eective, policy interventions should
build on a systemic understanding of transition processes and their dynamics. In this vein, scholars have
developed analytical approaches to help structure the analysis of technologies or sectors and related
transition dynamics [
7
,
8
]. Due to its specific nature, the transition into a bioeconomy poses particular
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990; doi:10.3390/su12218990 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 2 of 25
challenges to analysis of the ongoing transition processes and the identification of related entry-points
for policy. Most importantly, the transition to a circular bioeconomy is not limited to the introduction of
new technologies within a particular end-use or industrial sector. Rather, it implies the transformation
of multiple sectors and the development of new value chains. This raises the question of how existing
analytical approaches from the transitions literature are applied to identify policy entry-points.
During the last years, the number of scientific publications addressing bioeconomy-related topics
has increased. However, considering that the emerging research field involves dierent disciplines,
a holistic and multidisciplinary vision that is able to cope with the complexity of reality is still
lacking [
9
]. To fill this gap, there is a need to develop an integrated analytical perspective for analyzing
the transition towards a bioeconomy. Eorts to synchronize the empirical contributions that form
part of the broad research field provide a first step in this direction. Gaining a broader picture is
especially important to avoid “a ‘silo’ mentality and enabling the concept of the bioeconomy and its
associated objectives to become mainstreamed” [
10
]. To understand the requirements of a supportive
policy framework, comparing and combining findings from studies with dierent methodological and
sectoral origins can be a helpful tool.
Taking this as a starting point, this paper provides a systematic review of transition research on
the bioeconomy, with a particular focus on how existing research identifies transition barriers as a
basis for the identification of policy options. The paper begins with a short review of the particularities
of the transition to a circular bioeconomy and identifies related challenges for performing analysis
of system dynamics. It then briefly discusses the main analytical approaches from the transition
literature and how they tackle the task of identifying transition barriers and related policy entry-points.
Following this, the paper performs a systematic review of existing transition studies. This review
provides a quantitative assessment of the various dimensions addressed in these studies, such as
analytical focus, geographical scope and the sectoral focus. In a second step, the paper focuses on the
transition barriers identified in these studies and how these vary based on both the analytical focus
and approach taken. For this, it provides a categorization of the barriers identified in the studies and
then maps them onto the dierent analytical dimensions addressed by the studies. The paper closes
with a discussion of the main findings from the review and their implications for further research on
the transition to a circular bioeconomy.
The manuscript is the first paper to conduct a systematic review of the transitions literature
towards a circular bioeconomy, focusing on the identification of barriers in this context. With this,
it adds important insights to the discussion of the transition to a circular bioeconomy and how
this is being addressed by the current literature. It points out important gaps in the literature and
identifies avenues for further development of the research agenda, in particular as this pertains to
the identification of entry-points for policy making. The conducted research provides a systematic
understanding of the strengthens and weakness of a transition towards a circular bioeconomy and
therefore could help identify more sustainable and innovative solutions for facilitating both production
and consumption systems.
2. Challenges for Research addressing the Transition towards a Bioeconomy
The concept of a bioeconomy has remained ambiguous over the years and has given rise to varying
interpretations [
11
]. The generic nature of the concept, which is partly rooted in the engagement
of dierent scientific disciplines within the research field [
9
], leads to operationalization problems
related to the identification of relevant attributes that define economic actions linked to the bioeconomy.
In this sense, Maciejczak [
12
] argues that the bioeconomy should not be understood as brand new
economic phenomena or a new sector. According to Maciejczak [
12
], the originality of the bioeconomy,
which distinguishes the phenomena from the traditional use of biomass (e.g., bread baking) is rooted
in two factors: sustainability and eciency of renewable resources. In the same vein, Pelli and
Lähtinen [
13
] state that traditional and new bioeconomy evolve side-by-side, and processual changes
come hand-in-hand with the gradual reconfiguration of established regimes. The diculty of delimiting
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 3 of 25
the new bioeconomy from the old bioeconomy is also reflected in the ongoing debate on measuring
and monitoring the bioeconomy. It is argued that established classification systems, such as the
Nomenclature statistique des activit
é
s
é
conomiques dans la Communaut
é
europ
é
enne (NACE),
which were established to classify economic activities in the European Community, come up against
limiting factors in terms of the identification of economic activities related to the bioeconomy [
14
].
Compared with other sustainability transitions, such as the renewable energy transition where economic
activities related to renewable energy sources can be detected with traditional classification systems,
the mapping of the bioeconomy requires a set of new categories to narrow down the phenomenon.
Furthermore, the bioeconomy is not limited to a particular end-product. There is a broad set of
products linked to the transition, with strong variation regarding the characteristics of related value
chains. Kaplinsky and Morris [
15
] refer to value chains as “the full range of activities which are required
to bring a product or service from conception, through the dierent phases of production (involving a
combination of physical transformation and the input of various producer services), delivery to final
consumers, and final disposal after use”. Porter [
16
] distinguishes between activities that are linked
to producing, marketing, and delivering the product and those related to creating or developing
inputs or factors, which also includes required planning and management. For firms, each of these
activities creates a chance for dierentiation from their competitors within a certain industry, leading to
competitive advantages [16].
With a view on environmental innovation and competitive advantages, Porter and van der
Linde [
17
] distinguish between two broad forms of innovations with dierent eects on the value
chains of firms: one only addresses the way companies comply with pollution control, and the second
improves, in addition, the product or/and processes. Similarly, current work on eco-innovations often
emphasizes on two dierent types: end-of-pipe technologies, which reduces pollution emissions by
implementing add-on measures; and cleaner production, which includes the use of cleaner products
and production methods [
18
]. Following this distinction, innovations related to the bioeconomy are
associated with the second form.
However, with a more fine-scaled dierentiation combining dierent innovation typology
frameworks and emphasising the particularities of the bioeconomy, Bröring et al. [
19
] developed a
comprehensive bioeconomy innovation typology. This typology includes four innovation types,
which are specific to the bioeconomy: (i) Substitute Products, which refers to the bio-based replacement
of fossil-based products and can be fed into existing value chains; (ii) New Processes, which refers to
innovations that improve the performance of a process or create new value chain connections and
processing opportunities (e.g., an innovative and ecient way to produce bioethanol of lignocellulose);
(iii) New Products, which is associated with entirely new bio-based products with new functions;
(iv) New Behavior, which describes innovations that are linked to a new way of doing things, such as
changes at the customer side; new business models increasing circularly or applying cascading concepts;
or new stakeholder collaborations.
The plurality of innovation types described by Bröring et al. [
19
] also lead to challenges for research.
In this sense, Wydra [
20
] identified important dierences in value chains linked to the bioeconomy.
In his work, he elaborates on dierences in drop-in character, volume and price, quantity of feedstock,
maturity stage, and the potential advantage of value chains. Due to these dierences, “the potential
drivers, barriers, and consequences dier significantly between the value chains” [
20
]. This makes it
especially dicult to generalize findings rooted in the observation of a particular case. Hence, there is a
need to carefully balance broad analytical perspectives and narrow observations addressing particular
innovations. Due to the strong diversity of value chains, generic studies could risk overlooking
contextual variations, while studies with a highly specific character could lead to results with low
external validity.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 4 of 25
3. Theoretical Frameworks and Their Perspectives on Barriers
In the context of sustainable development, transitions are defined as a shift in socio-technical
systems that requires a fundamental re-orientation of societal development, which involve a wide set
of changes and interlinked transformations in markets, state, society, science and technology and their
relations [
21
]. To analyze such sustainability transitions, a number of dierent analytical perspectives
have emerged in the literature [
7
]. These theoretical frameworks frequently originate from the research
field of innovation studies. According to Smith et al. [
22
], the perspective of innovation research helps us
to understand the emergence of more sustainable production and consumption practices and formulate
recommendations for a shift away from unsustainable alternatives. However, when addressing
a sustainability transition, there is a need to extend this perspective of innovation studies [
22
].
Urmetzer et al. [
23
] highlight that the imparting of technological knowledge must be accompanied by
instruction in other types of knowledge, particularly the transformative knowledge necessary to equip
the protagonists of a bioeconomy transformation.
According Smith at al. [
22
], research into sustainable development requires a change in the
objective of studies from a focus on the successful emergence of cleaner technologies to a rather
far-reaching change to the entire production and consumption system. Building on the need to extend
the perspectives of existing theoretical frameworks, the option to combine conceptual approaches is
intensively discussed [
24
]. Such contributions often follow the objective to promote the applicability
of conceptual approaches to assess policies or identify possible interventions by analyzing system
dynamics and related barriers to system transformation as a basis for identifying ways of overcoming
these barriers [
25
]. For this purpose, a reflection on the conceptualization of problems within the
literature is especially important, as dierent classifications of problems could lead to confusion among
political decision-makers [
26
]. In the following, we briefly describe the most prominent approaches
applied in sustainable transition studies [
8
], namely Multi-level Perspective (MLP), the Technological
Innovation Systems (TIS), the Strategic Niche Management (SNM), or the Transition Management
(TM), and their treatment of transition barriers
Technology Innovation Systems [
27
30
] often refer to blocking mechanisms, which are “obstacles to
the formation of powerful functions and, thus, to technology diusion and capital goods industry
development” ([
31
], p. 25). An example of such an obstacle is a poorly articulated demand, which has
negative eects on TIS functions knowledge creation, guidance of search, and market formation [
32
].
Within the TIS literature, scholars also use the term system weaknesses, which should be the center of
TIS studies as it allows policy interventions to be detected [
33
]. For a better understanding of problems,
Wieczorek and Hekkert [
26
] argue that the design of an eective policy framework by exploring
functional weaknesses requires a coupled functional-structural analysis.
Scholars observing transitions though Multi-Level Perspectives [
22
,
34
,
35
] emphasize the three
analytical levels: niches, regimes, and landscapes. Regimes are considered structures that account for the
stability of an existing system and “refers to the semi-coherent set of rules that orient and coordinate the
activities of the social groups that reproduce the various elements of socio-technical systems” ([
36
], p. 25).
It is argued that the influence of structures varies depending on their degree of institutionalization,
which goes along with the phenomenon of path dependency [
37
]. The concept of path-dependency [
38
]
often serves as a conceptual basis for understanding barriers. Regarding carbon-saving technologies,
it is argued that “industrial economies have become locked into fossil fuel-based technological systems
through a path-dependent process driven by technological and institutional increasing returns to
scale” [
39
]. However, to analyze transition failures in relation to regime stability, studies go beyond the
observation of the corporate aspects of path dependency by emphasizing mechanisms, such as barriers
linked to the existence of dominant business models or institutional isomorphism [40].
Strategic Niche Management [
41
43
] emphasizes so-called socio-technical niches that serve
as “local breeding spaces for new technologies, in which they get a chance to develop and grow”
([
43
], p. 185). Important elements for niche development are expectations and visions, social networks,
and learning processes [
42
]. From an SNM perspective, scholars observe various interacting factors
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 5 of 25
that could impede transitions, such as barriers related to production, demand, government policy and
regulatory frameworks, culture, or infrastructure [43].
Transition Management [
44
46
] is used to better coordinate and legitimize policy and mobilize
capacities to solve problems. TM scholars focus on a transition arena and all stakeholders within this
area and strongly emphasize visions aecting change [
44
]. From a TM perspective, scholars often take
advantage of an operational model called transition management cycle, which includes the capacity to
(i) structure the problem and establish the transition arena, (ii) develop a transition agenda and images,
(iii) carry out transition experiments, and (iv) evaluate the experiment [
46
]. Through connecting and
ordering activities using this cycle, TM identifies barriers through a learning-by-doing focus [47].
As this short discussion reveals, various analytical approaches imply dierent conceptualizations
and approaches to tackling barriers. Consequently, the choice of a particular analytical framework
comes with dierent interpretations of transition problems. However, it is argued that some of the
existing theoretical frameworks are rather complementary [
25
]. In our study, we aim to contribute to
the understanding the perspectives on existing theoretical frameworks by systematically reviewing the
barriers identified in transition studies with dierent theoretical foundations. In doing so, we seek
not only to provide a comprehensive overview of transition barriers but also to shed light on how the
choice of analytical perspective influences the identification of barriers.
4. Methods and Data Collection
Our systematic review of the transition literature follows the Preferred Reporting Items for
Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines [
48
]. We applied PRISMA guidelines
to ensure the consistency of our work. The PRISMA flow diagram is a helpful tool for emphasizing
each step of the review process, which in turn increases transparency. Figure 1presents the four-step
process and the number of studies considered at each stage.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 27
area and strongly emphasize visions affecting change [44]. From a TM perspective, scholars often
take advantage of an operational model called transition management cycle, which includes the
capacity to (i) structure the problem and establish the transition arena, (ii) develop a transition agenda
and images, (iii) carry out transition experiments, and (iv) evaluate the experiment [46]. Through
connecting and ordering activities using this cycle, TM identifies barriers through a learning-by-
doing focus [47].
As this short discussion reveals, various analytical approaches imply different
conceptualizations and approaches to tackling barriers. Consequently, the choice of a particular
analytical framework comes with different interpretations of transition problems. However, it is
argued that some of the existing theoretical frameworks are rather complementary [25]. In our study,
we aim to contribute to the understanding the perspectives on existing theoretical frameworks by
systematically reviewing the barriers identified in transition studies with different theoretical
foundations. In doing so, we seek not only to provide a comprehensive overview of transition barriers
but also to shed light on how the choice of analytical perspective influences the identification of
barriers.
4. Methods and Data Collection
Our systematic review of the transition literature follows the Preferred Reporting Items for
Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines [48]. We applied PRISMA guidelines
to ensure the consistency of our work. The PRISMA flow diagram is a helpful tool for emphasizing
each step of the review process, which in turn increases transparency. Figure 1 presents the four-step
process and the number of studies considered at each stage.
Figure 1. The review process linked to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-
Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Source: adapted from Moher et al., 2009.
For the selection of relevant publications, we used the interdisciplinary academic database Web
of Science (WoS). In order to reduce the risk of selection biases, we chose a systematic approach,
which enabled us to identify a large number of publications that represent the research field as
precisely as possible, while avoiding individual decisions to include or exclude a certain publication.
Records identified through
database searching
(n = 202)
Screening
Included
Eligibility
Identification
Records after duplicates removed
(n = 73)
Records excluded
(n = 0)
Full-text articles assessed
for eligibility
(n = 73)
Full-text articles excluded,
with reasons
(n = 15)
Studies included in
qualitative synthesis
(n = 58)
Studies included in
quantitative synthesis
(meta-analysis)
(n = 58)
Figure 1.
The review process linked to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and
Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Source: adapted from Moher et al., 2009.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 6 of 25
For the selection of relevant publications, we used the interdisciplinary academic database Web
of Science (WoS). In order to reduce the risk of selection biases, we chose a systematic approach,
which enabled us to identify a large number of publications that represent the research field as
precisely as possible, while avoiding individual decisions to include or exclude a certain publication.
Therefore, we used thee Cited Reference Search function in WoS as a starting point for the selection.
This function enabled to create a list of studies that cited selected publication. As a basis for this
approach, we used transition core literature, included in Appendix A. In addition, we refined the
outcome by using the keywords: bioeconomy, bio-economy, bio-based economy, biobased economy,
renewable AND circular economy, and biomass AND circular economy. This process led to an output
of 202 publications. After excluding duplicates, a list of 73 studies remained.
In order to select and include only relevant literature in the final sample, the publication should
meet three criteria: (i) the study addresses a phenomenon related to the bioeconomy; (ii) the study
adopts an empirical approach; and (iii) their research questions aim at understanding the transition
towards a bioeconomy. After excluding conceptual and descriptive papers, as well as literature that
does not address transition barriers in a broader sense, a total selection of 58 empirical transition
studies remained. The studies in our sample are published between 2009 and the beginning of 2020.
However, only two studies were published before 2015, while the number of publications started
to increase in 2015. 84% of the selected literature was published from 2017 onwards. The studies
are published in 27 dierent journals. However, 50% of them are published in the following four
journals: Journal of Cleaner Production (eleven); Sustainability (ten); Environmental Innovation and
Societal Transitions (four); and Forest Policy and Economics (four). A list of all reviewed publications
is included in Appendix B.
4.1. Reviewing Process
Figure 2shows the methodology we applied to answer the research questions. The first part of
the review process aimed at gaining an overview of the research field by conducting a quantitative
systematic review of transition studies related to the circular bioeconomy, which also involved a
reflection on applied frameworks within the research field. The second part included a summary
and categorization of barriers to the transition towards a circular bioeconomy identified in the
selected publications.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 27
Therefore, we used thee Cited Reference Search function in WoS as a starting point for the selection.
This function enabled to create a list of studies that cited selected publication. As a basis for this
approach, we used transition core literature, included in Appendix A. In addition, we refined the
outcome by using the keywords: bioeconomy, bio-economy, bio-based economy, biobased economy,
renewable AND circular economy, and biomass AND circular economy. This process led to an output
of 202 publications. After excluding duplicates, a list of 73 studies remained.
In order to select and include only relevant literature in the final sample, the publication should
meet three criteria: (i) the study addresses a phenomenon related to the bioeconomy; (ii) the study
adopts an empirical approach; and (iii) their research questions aim at understanding the transition
towards a bioeconomy. After excluding conceptual and descriptive papers, as well as literature that
does not address transition barriers in a broader sense, a total selection of 58 empirical transition
studies remained. The studies in our sample are published between 2009 and the beginning of 2020.
However, only two studies were published before 2015, while the number of publications started to
increase in 2015. 84% of the selected literature was published from 2017 onwards. The studies are
published in 27 different journals. However, 50% of them are published in the following four journals:
Journal of Cleaner Production (eleven); Sustainability (ten); Environmental Innovation and Societal
Transitions (four); and Forest Policy and Economics (four). A list of all reviewed publications is
included in Appendix B.
4.1. Reviewing Process
Figure 2 shows the methodology we applied to answer the research questions. The first part of
the review process aimed at gaining an overview of the research field by conducting a quantitative
systematic review of transition studies related to the circular bioeconomy, which also involved a
reflection on applied frameworks within the research field. The second part included a summary and
categorization of barriers to the transition towards a circular bioeconomy identified in the selected
publications.
Figure 2. Analytical steps and research questions. Source: own elaboration.
4.1.1. Systematic Literature Review and Analysis of Theoretical Frameworks
In order to understand how scholars use theoretical frameworks to analyze the transition, a
systematic analysis of the selected transition studies was conducted. As shown in Table 1, each
publication was reviewed along four major dimensions: main objectives of the study, addressed
sectors and value chains, geographical scale, and theoretical framework used.
Figure 2. Analytical steps and research questions. Source: own elaboration.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 7 of 25
4.1.1. Systematic Literature Review and Analysis of Theoretical Frameworks
In order to understand how scholars use theoretical frameworks to analyze the transition,
a systematic analysis of the selected transition studies was conducted. As shown in Table 1,
each publication was reviewed along four major dimensions: main objectives of the study,
addressed sectors and value chains, geographical scale, and theoretical framework used.
Table 1. Investigated aspects in the systematic literature review.
Investigate Dimension Investigated Aspects Description
Main objectives of the study
Key factors Studies that aim at identifying and assessing factors
influencing the transition to a bioeconomy.
Changes in established sectors
Studies that address the change of established sectors or
incumbent firms and/or their roles. The starting point here
is pre-defined companies or a certain sector.
Networks and Stakeholders Studies that aim at identifying involved stakeholders
and/or their positions and expectations.
Policies
Studies with the objective to identify or assess policies and
their impact on the transition towards a bioeconomy.
Sectors and value chains
Sectors
Studies that address the transition within a clearly defined
sector. Identified sectors include chemistry, the plastic
manufacturing sector, the pulp and paper manufacturing
sector, the construction and building sector, the fuel and
energy producing sector, and the primary sector.
Value chains
Studies with a value chain perspective observe economic
activities related to one or more clearly defined value
chain(s) or value chain step(s). Hence, these publications
are not limited to the observation of firms or organizations
from one sector only. Besides studies that focus on the
observation of wood- or agricultural-based value chains or
value chains from waste and by-products, we also
distinguish between studies focusing on the value chain
steps of biomass production or biomass processing.
Bioeconomy in general
Studies that observe the transition towards a bioeconomy
in general (e.g., comparing policies form dierent
countries to promote the use of biomass for industrial
purposes unrelated to a certain sector).
Geographical scale
National, Regional, European
Studies with a focus on national, local/regional, or
European level, using data form one country or one region,
or European level data, respectively.
Cross national, Cross regional
The research is based on compering or combining national
level data from two or more countries or local level data
from two or more regions.
Other e.g., global.
Theoretical frameworks
TIS and frameworks linked to TIS Studies that adopted TIS/a framework linked to TIS.
MLP and frameworks linked to MLP Studies that adopted MLP/a framework linked to MLP.
SNM and frameworks linked to SNM Studies that adopted SNM/a framework linked to SNM.
TM and frameworks linked to TM Studies that adopted TM/a framework linked to TM.
Other Studies that apply a framework unrelated to the four
named above.
New Studies that introduce and apply a new approach.
Source: own elaboration.
4.1.2. Review of Identified Barriers
The categorization of barriers identified in the transition literature was facilitated by scientific
software for qualitative data analysis Maxqda, which enables a systematic analysis of the content
of documents through the function of labelling and structuring. In order to create a scheme to
categorize barriers, we implemented a coding process without pre-structuring the material. In social
science, open coding processes based on a comparative observation of qualitative data are often
rooted in Grounded Theory, which is especially appropriate for the purpose of generating theories
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 8 of 25
and discovering notions beyond existing theoretical approaches [
49
51
]. The approach allowed a
fine-scaled observation of the identified barriers in transition studies through the process of comparing
and splitting or merging codes. In order to summarize the identified barriers, we reviewed the
publications word by word, using the MAXQDA coding function, which allowed us to structure the
text of documents by using labels to shortly describe its content. To do so, we focused on the results,
discussion, and conclusion sections of the studies and labeled all sentences or paragraphs that describe
a barrier with a headline that summarized their content. To make this process clearer, an example
from one of the first reviewed studies is provided: “Eight (out of 21) CEOs indicated that a number
of bio-based companies are competing with each other for the same biomass [
52
].” We labeled this
sentence as “Competition for resources due to competitive use of input material” and used the same
label for findings from other publications identifying the same problem. This process involved the
constant comparing and splitting or merging of labels. On a larger scale, all findings related to the
availability of material were grouped in a sub-category called “Diculties to obtain input material”.
Besides competition for biomass, this sub-category also comprises other labels linked to input material,
such as identified problems in biomass production. During the labeling process, these sub-categories
of barriers were thematically grouped in more generic categories. Likewise, the described example
forms part of the category “Technology and Material”. In the end, a structure along six categories
emerged: Policies and Regulations, Technology and Material, Market and Investment Conditions,
Social Acceptance, Knowledge and Networks, and Sectoral Routines and Structures. The categories
should serve as overall labels that build the upper layer of the coding system and cluster the barrier
sub-category thematically. During the reviewing process of the last publications, we found no new
barrier sub-categories, which indicates that the data analysis had reached a saturation [
50
]. After coding
all the selected publications, we observed how the identification of barriers varied in terms of main
objectives, sectors and value chains, theoretical frameworks, and geographical scale. To understand
the background of the identified barriers, we emphasized the four dimensions presented in Table 1as a
second step. Therefore, a qualitative data analysis was conducted by using the MAXQDA function for
comparative analysis of cases and groups, which enabled us to compare the frequency of identified
barriers in relation to investigated dimensions (e.g., dierent theoretical frameworks).
5. Results
5.1. Systematic Review of Transition Studies Addressing Bioeconomy
In this Section, the results of the systematic literature review of 58 studies addressing the transition
towards a circular bio-based economy are presented on the basis of the four dimensions investigated.
5.1.1. Main Objectives of the Studies
As shown in Figure 3, most of the analyzed studies (38%) aim at identifying relevant factors
influencing the transition to a circular bioeconomy. Among others, these factors include identification
of the strengths and weaknesses of innovation systems, assessment of the impact of certain events
or aspects facilitating or challenging the transition, or the identification of favorable conditions
of a successful transition. Fewer studies (28%) aim at mapping the stakeholders and their role,
positions and/or expectations in regard to the transition. In these studies, focus is given to the type of
actors in networks, the involved stakeholders in projects, and the interactions and knowledge exchange
among stakeholders. 17% of the studies focused on understanding changes within established sectors
and incumbent firms and/or their roles in the transition, including changes over time; they also
analyzed the role of certain sectors, such as the agricultural sector, in the transition; additionally,
they investigated how firms adopted new strategies and changed their (unsustainable) practices.
Another 17% explored policies and their eect on the transition as a whole or on certain aspects,
by comparing national policies or assessing existing strategies or policies in a certain country.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 9 of 25
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 27
17% explored policies and their effect on the transition as a whole or on certain aspects, by comparing
national policies or assessing existing strategies or policies in a certain country.
Figure 3. Main objectives. Source: own elaboration.
5.1.2. Sectoral Focus and Addressed Value Chains
The analyzed studies either have a broader focus on observing sectoral change (see the green
box in Figure 4) or explore a clearly defined product by analyzing selected value chains or a value
chain step (see the grey box in Figure 4). Furthermore, there are studies that observe the transition
towards a bioeconomy in general (see the blue box in Figure 4). For example, Strom-Andersen [53]
explores the role of incumbents in the transition by focusing on the Norwegian meat-processing
sector, while Carraresi et al. [54] analyze bottlenecks and challenges for chain actors aiming at
implementing novel value chains related to phosphate recovery. Furthermore, some studies focus on
value chain steps such as the development of biomass production or processing. Examples include
Magrini et al. [55], who address biomass production by exploring the main lock-in effects that limit
the widespread occurrence of cropping diversity; or Giurca and Spath [56], who analyze weaknesses
and required policies related to the development of lignocellulosic biorefining in Germany. An
example of a publication that focuses on the transition towards a bioeconomy in general is a study
conducted by Bosman and Rotmans [57], which compared governance efforts to promote the
transition towards a bioeconomy in the Netherlands and Finland.
The results of the systematic review of the addressed sectors and value chains indicates that the
interests of transition scholars cover a wide spectrum of industries. In this sense, the literature reflects
the multi-sectoral and complex character of the bioeconomy. Our analysis shows that 43% of the
studies observe changes within sectors unrelated to a particular value chain or a value chain step,
while the other 57% focus on value chain(s) from different types of biomass or value chain steps.
Among these studies, transition scholars most frequently address value chains with wood-based
building blocks. Additionally, scholars explore bio-based value chains from primary, as well as
secondary, biomass. However, compared with biomass from the primary sector, value chains from
waste and by-products play a less important role in the analyzed publications. The focus of the
literature appeals equally balanced between addressing the use of biomass for energy and fuel
production and its application for other purposes within manufacturing sectors (e.g., the construction
sector).
38%
28%
17%
17%
Objectives of the Transtion Studies
Key factors
Stakeholders
Established sectors and incumbent firms
Policies
Figure 3. Main objectives. Source: own elaboration.
5.1.2. Sectoral Focus and Addressed Value Chains
The analyzed studies either have a broader focus on observing sectoral change (see the green
box in Figure 4) or explore a clearly defined product by analyzing selected value chains or a value
chain step (see the grey box in Figure 4). Furthermore, there are studies that observe the transition
towards a bioeconomy in general (see the blue box in Figure 4). For example, Strom-Andersen [
53
]
explores the role of incumbents in the transition by focusing on the Norwegian meat-processing sector,
while Carraresi et al. [
54
] analyze bottlenecks and challenges for chain actors aiming at implementing
novel value chains related to phosphate recovery. Furthermore, some studies focus on value chain
steps such as the development of biomass production or processing. Examples include Magrini et
al. [
55
], who address biomass production by exploring the main lock-in eects that limit the widespread
occurrence of cropping diversity; or Giurca and Spath [
56
], who analyze weaknesses and required
policies related to the development of lignocellulosic biorefining in Germany. An example of a
publication that focuses on the transition towards a bioeconomy in general is a study conducted by
Bosman and Rotmans [
57
], which compared governance eorts to promote the transition towards a
bioeconomy in the Netherlands and Finland.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 27
Figure 4. Addressed sectors and value chains. Source: own elaboration.
5.1.3. Geographical Scales
In terms of the geographical dimension, as indicated in Figure 5, scholars mostly explore the
transition towards a bioeconomy through national-level analysis. Namely, 53% of studies draw their
conclusions referring to one certain country. The four most common countries are Sweden, Norway,
Finland, and Germany. However, 21% of the publications analyze the transition on a regional or local
scale, while another 12% adopt a cross-national perspective by comparing or using the data from two
or more countries.
Figure 5. Addressed geographical regions.
5.1.4. Applied Frameworks
As shown in Figure 6, TIS was the most common framework adopted by 20% of the analyzed
studies and MLP the second (14%). According to our findings, SNM was used by 7% of the transition
studies, while TM was only applied once. The remaining studies were label as others, 12% of which
adopted a combination or extension of the presented framework by linking it to other approaches.
Most of them built on MLP. In 14% of the studies, the scholars introduced a new approach, while 31%
adopted a different framework (e.g., an approach based on classical institutional economics).
Figure 4. Addressed sectors and value chains. Source: own elaboration.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 10 of 25
The results of the systematic review of the addressed sectors and value chains indicates that the
interests of transition scholars cover a wide spectrum of industries. In this sense, the literature reflects
the multi-sectoral and complex character of the bioeconomy. Our analysis shows that 43% of the studies
observe changes within sectors unrelated to a particular value chain or a value chain step, while the
other 57% focus on value chain(s) from dierent types of biomass or value chain steps. Among
these studies, transition scholars most frequently address value chains with wood-based building
blocks. Additionally, scholars explore bio-based value chains from primary, as well as secondary,
biomass. However, compared with biomass from the primary sector, value chains from waste and
by-products play a less important role in the analyzed publications. The focus of the literature appeals
equally balanced between addressing the use of biomass for energy and fuel production and its
application for other purposes within manufacturing sectors (e.g., the construction sector).
5.1.3. Geographical Scales
In terms of the geographical dimension, as indicated in Figure 5, scholars mostly explore the
transition towards a bioeconomy through national-level analysis. Namely, 53% of studies draw
their conclusions referring to one certain country. The four most common countries are Sweden,
Norway, Finland, and Germany. However, 21% of the publications analyze the transition on a regional
or local scale, while another 12% adopt a cross-national perspective by comparing or using the data
from two or more countries.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 27
Figure 4. Addressed sectors and value chains. Source: own elaboration.
5.1.3. Geographical Scales
In terms of the geographical dimension, as indicated in Figure 5, scholars mostly explore the
transition towards a bioeconomy through national-level analysis. Namely, 53% of studies draw their
conclusions referring to one certain country. The four most common countries are Sweden, Norway,
Finland, and Germany. However, 21% of the publications analyze the transition on a regional or local
scale, while another 12% adopt a cross-national perspective by comparing or using the data from two
or more countries.
Figure 5. Addressed geographical regions.
5.1.4. Applied Frameworks
As shown in Figure 6, TIS was the most common framework adopted by 20% of the analyzed
studies and MLP the second (14%). According to our findings, SNM was used by 7% of the transition
studies, while TM was only applied once. The remaining studies were label as others, 12% of which
adopted a combination or extension of the presented framework by linking it to other approaches.
Most of them built on MLP. In 14% of the studies, the scholars introduced a new approach, while 31%
adopted a different framework (e.g., an approach based on classical institutional economics).
Figure 5. Addressed geographical regions.
5.1.4. Applied Frameworks
As shown in Figure 6, TIS was the most common framework adopted by 20% of the analyzed
studies and MLP the second (14%). According to our findings, SNM was used by 7% of the transition
studies, while TM was only applied once. 12% of the studies adopted a combination or extension
of the presented framework by linking it to other approaches. Most of them built on MLP. In 14%
of the studies, the scholars introduced a new approach, while 31% adopted a dierent framework
(e.g., an approach based on classical institutional economics).
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 27
Figure 6. Applied frameworks. Source: own elaboration.
5.2. Systematic Analysis of the Application Practice of Theoretical Frameworks
This section shows the major differences among the studied theoretical frameworks by
analyzing the four investigated dimensions and related aspects.
5.2.1. Main Objectives of the Studies
As presented in Table 2, our analysis shows that TIS is the most frequently used framework
when analyzing policies and their effects on the transition to a bioeconomy, and it is often used to
identify or assess influential factors (e.g., focusing on strengths and weaknesses). However, it is not
applied to studies that focus on changes among incumbent firms. By analyzing the application of
MLP, we observed a contrary tendency. The framework is mostly applied in studies that aim at
exploring the changes carried out by incumbent firms or their role in the transition to a bioeconomy,
while scholars aiming to analyze policies tend to choose another framework over MLP.
Table 2. Percentage of papers applying different frameworks in relation to “main objectives”.
TIS
MLP
SNM
TM
Other/New
Key factors
50.0
41.7
50.0
-
30.8
Stakeholders
14.3
8.3
25.0
50.0
42.3
Incumbent firms
-
50.0
50.0
25.0
Policies
35.7
-
25.0
-
15.4
Source: own elaboration.
5.2.2. Sectors and Value Chains
Figure 7 summarizes the frequency of the application of different frameworks in respect to
different sectors and value chains. Our results indicate that there is no a clear tendency to choose a
certain framework to analyze a particular sector. However, we observe that TIS is often used to
address innovation systems around biorefineries, while MLP is frequently used among scholars
observing change within the primary and construction sectors. Furthermore, compared with TIS,
MLP is more frequently used to observe sectoral change and less to explore phenomena through a
value chain perspective.
TIS
20%
TIS combined
3%
MLP
14%
MLP combined
7%
SNM
7%
TM
2%
TM combined
2%
new
14%
other
31%
Figure 6. Applied frameworks. Source: own elaboration.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 11 of 25
5.2. Systematic Analysis of the Application Practice of Theoretical Frameworks
This section shows the major dierences among the studied theoretical frameworks by analyzing
the four investigated dimensions and related aspects.
5.2.1. Main Objectives of the Studies
As presented in Table 2, our analysis shows that TIS is the most frequently used framework
when analyzing policies and their eects on the transition to a bioeconomy, and it is often used to
identify or assess influential factors (e.g., focusing on strengths and weaknesses). However, it is not
applied to studies that focus on changes among incumbent firms. By analyzing the application of MLP,
we observed a contrary tendency. The framework is mostly applied in studies that aim at exploring the
changes carried out by incumbent firms or their role in the transition to a bioeconomy, while scholars
aiming to analyze policies tend to choose another framework over MLP.
Table 2. Percentage of papers applying dierent frameworks in relation to “main objectives”.
TIS MLP SNM TM Other/New
Key factors 50.0 41.7 50.0 - 30.8
Stakeholders 14.3 8.3 25.0 50.0 42.3
Incumbent firms - 50.0 50.0 25.0
Policies 35.7 - 25.0 - 15.4
Source: own elaboration.
5.2.2. Sectors and Value Chains
Figure 7summarizes the frequency of the application of dierent frameworks in respect to
dierent sectors and value chains. Our results indicate that there is no clear tendency to choose
a certain framework to analyze a particular sector. However, we observe that TIS is often used
to address innovation systems around biorefineries, while MLP is frequently used among scholars
observing change within the primary and construction sectors. Furthermore, compared with TIS,
MLP is more frequently used to observe sectoral change and less to explore phenomena through a
value chain perspective.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 27
Figure 7. Frequency of the application of the frameworks in relation tosectors and value chains”.
Source: Own elaboration.
5.2.3. Geographical Scales
In terms of the geographical perspective, our results show that TIS, MLP and the so-defined
“other/new” frameworks are mostly used for studies that focus on a national level (see Table 3). On
the other hand, SNM studies are distributed along all types of geographical scales.
Table 3. Percentage of papers applying different frameworks in relation to a geographical
perspective”.
TIS
MLP
SNM
TM
Other/New
National
64.3
58.3
25.0
50.0
46.2
Local or Regional
-
16.7
25.0
50.0
26.9
Cross-National
14.3
25.0
25.0
-
38.5
Other (e.g., cross-local, European, global)
21.4
-
25.0
-
41.7
Source: own elaboration.
5.3. Barriers that Hamper the Transition towards a Bioeconomy Identified in the Literature
In this chapter, we present the identified barriers in transition literature and the results of their
categorization into categories and sub-categories. We also provide a summary of the most mentioned
barriers in literature.
Categories and Sub-Categories of Barriers
The coding process of the identified barriers led to the emergence of six categories. (I) Policy and
Regulation, which includes barriers related to existing or missing policies or regulations and policy
implementation problems. (II) Technology and Materials, which encompasses technical issues related
to the application of technologies and the development of products, as well as the availability of input
materials, supplier structures, and physical infrastructures. (III) Market and Investment Conditions,
which involves barriers related to market demand and creation, and to the mobilization and
availability of financial resources. (IV) Social Acceptance, which contains barriers related to public
awareness, interest and engagement, and public opposition. (V) Knowledge and Networks, which
includes barriers related to the creation and application of knowledge and to the existence and
development of efficient networks. (VI) Sectoral Routines and Structures, which contains barriers
Figure 7.
Frequency of the application of the frameworks in relation to “sectors and value chains”.
Source: Own elaboration.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 12 of 25
5.2.3. Geographical Scales
In terms of the geographical perspective, our results show that TIS, MLP and the so-defined
“other/new” frameworks are mostly used for studies that focus on a national level (see Table 3). On the
other hand, SNM studies are distributed along all types of geographical scales.
Table 3.
Percentage of papers applying dierent frameworks in relation to a “geographical perspective”.
TIS MLP SNM TM Other/New
National 64.3 58.3 25.0 50.0 46.2
Local or Regional - 16.7 25.0 50.0 26.9
Cross-National 14.3 25.0 25.0 - 38.5
Other (e.g., cross-local, European, global) 21.4 - 25.0 - 41.7
Source: own elaboration.
5.3. Barriers that Hamper the Transition towards a Bioeconomy Identified in the Literature
In this chapter, we present the identified barriers in transition literature and the results of their
categorization into categories and sub-categories. We also provide a summary of the most mentioned
barriers in literature.
Categories and Sub-Categories of Barriers
The coding process of the identified barriers led to the emergence of six categories. (I) Policy and
Regulation, which includes barriers related to existing or missing policies or regulations and policy
implementation problems. (II) Technology and Materials, which encompasses technical issues related
to the application of technologies and the development of products, as well as the availability of input
materials, supplier structures, and physical infrastructures. (III) Market and Investment Conditions,
which involves barriers related to market demand and creation, and to the mobilization and availability
of financial resources. (IV) Social Acceptance, which contains barriers related to public awareness,
interest and engagement, and public opposition. (V) Knowledge and Networks, which includes
barriers related to the creation and application of knowledge and to the existence and development
of ecient networks. (VI) Sectoral Routines and Structures, which contains barriers related to the
willingness and restrictiveness of incumbents, lock-ins that develop over time, and challenges related
to dominant standards.
Table 4provides an overview of the barriers, categories and related sub-categories, indicating as
well the number of papers that identified one or more barriers (one count per paper).
Our analysis shows that the selected publications place less emphasis on barriers related to the
categories Social Acceptance and Technology and Materials, while a total of forty or more publications
identified barriers related to Knowledge and Networks, Sectoral Routines and Structures, Policies and
Regulations and Market and Investment Conditions. Besides the dierences among the categories, we also
observed an unequal distribution among the dierent sub-categories of the barriers. The most frequently
identified barrier sub-categories were Implementation problems of policies (e.g., missing engagement of
certain industrial actors and society) and Unfavorable policies and politics (e.g., lack of harmonization
and policy coordination). It cannot be said conclusively whether these imbalances are related to the
relative importance of the dierent categories or sub-categories of the barriers, or whether it is related
to a bias in the analytical frameworks. Box 1provides and overview of the most frequently identified
barriers for each category.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 13 of 25
Table 4. Categorization of transition barriers identified.
Categories of Barrier Total No.
of Papers Sub-Categories of Barriers No. of Papers Per
Sub-Category
Policies and
Regulations 44
Missing policies 23
Unfavorable policies and politics 29
Policy Implementation problems 29
Technology and
Material 26
Diculties to obtain input material 19
Missing physical infrastructure 7
Technical barriers related to production and industrial application
10
Market and
Investment
Conditions
40
Unfavorable market environment 27
Issues in market creation 19
Unfavorable investment conditions 11
Social Acceptance 22 Public opposition 13
Lack of public awareness, interest, and engagement 6
Knowledge and
Networks 48
Diculties with network formation 25
Coordination and communication problems 18
Dierent views and expectations within networks 25
Problems with research and knowledge development 24
Lack of information and knowledge 12
Missing skills and competences 16
Sectoral Routines
and Structures 43
Low willingness and restrictiveness to change 27
Lock-ins in infrastructures and business models 21
Challenges related to standards 13
Source: own elaboration.
Box 1. Overview of the most frequently identified barriers for each category
Within the category Policy and Regulation, the most mentioned barrier is Missing consensus on the direction
of change (e.g., due to a missing common understanding, competing goal or alternative solution) (identified
in 17 studies), which forms part of the sub-category Implementation problems. A relatively large number of
dierent barriers are clustered as Missing policies, including the Lack of technology push policies and the Lack
of demand-pull policy instruments, each identified in 11 publications. Within the sub-category Unfavorable
policies and politics, a total of 16 studies identified Lack of long-term perspective and unsteady political direction
as barriers to the transition.
Within the category Technology and Material, the barrier Lack of input resource and diculties to mobilize
feedstock was the most mentioned (11 studies), followed by Competition for resources due to competitive use of
input material (10 studies).
Among the barriers categorized as Market and Investment conditions, the most mentioned problems are Low
profitability and high demand for financial resources (23 publications). A further frequently identified barrier is
Uncertain returns due to technological novelty and uncertain political support (15 publications) and Cheaper
competition from fossil-base materials or products (14 publications). Within the sub-category Unfavorable
investment conditions, problems related to Small demand and lack of dominant design are the most mentioned
problems (14 studies).
The category Social Acceptance copes with two aspects. First, the scholars refer to the role of society as
consumers with preferences for bio-based products. Second, fewer studies identify barriers related to the more
active role of society in the transition towards a bioeconomy as citizens expressing their opposition or support in
social or political participation. These tendencies can be found within both sub-categories of the barriers. The
most mentioned barrier within the category is Low public acceptance (identified by 11 studies), followed by
Lack of awareness (identified in 8 publications).
Among barriers related to Knowledge and Networks, the barrier Dierent or conflicting priorities, goals, visions
or expectations within networks or stakeholder groups is the most frequently addressed problem (22 publications).
A further issue that hampers the development of functioning networks is Diculties in stakeholder involvement
and missing key actors within networks (17 studies). In terms of research and knowledge development, Lack of
cooperation, weak exchange networks, and coordination problems are presented as issues by 12 studies and are
therefore the most mentioned within this sub-category.
Within the category Sectoral Routines and Structures, the most identified barriers are related to Lock-in eect in
established systems, technologies and (buying) practices (mentioned in 14 studies). Furthermore, barriers related
to Lack of strategies, low ambition to change or risk-averse attitudes are frequently mentioned (13 studies).
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 14 of 25
5.4. Systematic Analysis of Identified Barriers in Relation to the Studies Background
5.4.1. Main Objectives of the Studies
Table 5presents the distribution of studies that identify one or more barriers within a category
in relation to the main objectives of the study. Our findings show that barriers within the category
Market and Investment Conditions,Knowledge and Networks and Social Acceptance are most frequently
identified by studies addressing key factors, while more studies that address polices as their main
objective found barriers related to Technology and Materials and Policies and Regulations. The category
Sectoral Routines and Structure is mostly addressed by studies aiming to assess the role of incumbent
firms, as well as publications that identify and assess policies.
Table 5.
Percentage of papers identifying one or more barriers in relation to the “main objectives of
the studies”.
Key Factors Stakeholders Incumbent Firms Policies
Policies and Regulations 86.4 68.8 40.0 100.0
Technology and Material 54.5 31.3 20.0 70.0
Market and Investment conditions 77.3 62.5 70.0 60.0
Social Acceptance 45.5 37.5 20.0 40.0
Knowledge and Networks 90.9 87.5 70.0 70.0
Sectoral Routines and Structures 72.7 68.8 80.0 80.0
Source: own elaboration.
5.4.2. Sectors and Value Chains
Table 6presents the distribution of papers that address one or more barrier(s) forming a certain
category in relation to the sector or value chain. The outcome shows that, on average, studies adopting
a value chain perspective identified the largest number of barrier sub-categories. These studies most
frequently addressed barriers relating to Technology and Material, Market and Investment Conditions,
and Knowledge and Networks, while publications that observed change within a certain sector more
frequently addressed barriers within the Sectoral Routines and Structures category. Barriers clustered as
Policies and Regulations and Social Acceptance were most frequently addressed by studies that observed
the bioeconomy in general.
Table 6.
Percentage of papers identifying one or more barriers in relation to “sectors and value chains”.
Studies that Observe
Change within a
Particular Sector
Studies with a Value
Chain Perspective
Studies Observing
Bioeconomy in General
Policies and Regulations 57.1 75.8 100.0
Technology and Material 21.4 60.6 27.3
Market and Investment Conditions 57.1 81.8 45.5
Social Acceptance 35.7 36.4 45.5
Knowledge and Networks 78.6 84.8 81.8
Sectoral Routines and Structures 92.9 72.7 54.5
Source: own elaboration.
5.4.3. Geographical Scales
Our results, indicate that studies observing the transition from a cross-national perspective identify,
on average, nine barrier sub-categories, while publications that draw their conclusions from national-
and European-level data find approximately seven dierent sub-categories. Within the categories
Policies and Regulations and Sectoral Routines and Structures, studies that combine or compare data from
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 15 of 25
more than one country identify more barriers, compared with studies with dierent geographical
scales. Barriers related to Market and Investment Conditions are more often identified by studies with a
national perspective, and problems linked to Technology and Material and Social Acceptance are more
often identified by studies that use regional-level data. This may indicate that social acceptance is more
salient at a local level than on a broader societal level. Table 7illustrates the percentage of studies that
identify at least one barrier within a certain category in relation to geographical dimensions.
Table 7. Percentage of papers identifying one or more barriers in relation to “geographical scale”.
National Regional Cross-National Cross-Regional European Other
Policies and Regulations 77.4 66.7 85.7 100.0 100.0 50.0
Technology and Material 41.9 58.3 42.9 50.0 - 50.0
Market and Investment Conditions
77.4 75.0 57.1 50.0 50.0 25.0
Social Acceptance 45.2 41.7 28.6 - 0.0 25.0
Knowledge and Networks 80.6 83.3 100.0 50.0 100.0 75,0
Sectoral Routines and Structures 80.6 50.0 100.0 50.0 50.0 75,0
Source: own elaboration.
5.4.4. Theoretical Frameworks
As illustrated in Table 8, our analysis shows that, on average, a study that analyzes the transition
to a bioeconomy through the lens of TIS discovers a broader range of sub-categories, compared with
other frameworks. On average, each study that applied the TIS approach identified barriers that can
be clustered in 9.5 dierent sub-categories, while studies that adopted frameworks classified as others
covered approximately six sub-categories; MLP studies found seven and SNM approximately eight
dierent sub-categories of barriers. In order to explore the dierences between the studies and gain
further insight, we analyzed the identified barrier clustered along each sub-category in more depth.
In this regard, we found that most barriers related to Missing policies are observed though the lens of
TIS. The same accounts for barriers linked to Unfavorable policies and politics and Implementation problems.
This could be explained by the outcome of the analysis of the research questions (chapter 4.2.1),
which indicates that TIS is frequently used to assess policies. Also, within the category Market and
Investment Conditions, TIS studies identified the largest number of barriers. Within the category Social
Acceptance, the barriers are only identified by studies that apply TIS, MLP, or frameworks categorized as
“Others/New”. On average, barriers related to Networks and Knowledge are more frequently addressed
by studies that build on the conception framework of SNM. Furthermore, our results show that most
barriers related to Lock-ins in infrastructures and business models and Challenges related to standards
are findings of MLP studies.
Table 8. Categorization of identified barriers and their conceptual origins.
TIS
(14 Studies)
MLP
(12 Studies)
SNM
(4 Studies)
TM
(2 Studies)
Other/New
(26 Studies)
Pof
Paper
% of
Paper
Pof
Paper
% of
Paper
Pof
Paper
% of
Paper
Pof
Paper
% of
Paper
Pof
Paper
% of
Paper
Policy and Regulation
Missing policies 11 78.6 4 33.3 2 50.0 - - 7 26.9
Unfavorable policies and politics 10 71.4 6 50.0 1 25.0 1 50.0 13 46.2
Implementation problems 10 71.4 5 41.7 3 75.0 1 50.0 13 46.2
Technology and Materials
Diculties to obtain input material
6 42.9 4 33.3 2 50.0 - - 9 34.6
Missing physical infrastructure 5 35.7 - - 1 25.0 - - 1 3.8
Technical barriers to production
and industrial application 5 35.7 2 16.6 1 25.0 - - 3 11.5
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 16 of 25
Table 8. Cont.
TIS
(14 Studies)
MLP
(12 Studies)
SNM
(4 Studies)
TM
(2 Studies)
Other/New
(26 Studies)
Market and Investment Conditions
Unfavorable market environment 9 64.3 7 58.3 2 50.0 1 50.0 13 46.2
Issues in market creation 5 35.7 5 41.7 2 50.0 - - 7 26.9
Unfavorable investment
conditions 10 71.4 3 25.0 1 25.0 1 50.0 8 46.2
Social Acceptance
Public opposition 4 28.6 4 33.3 - - - - 10 38.5
Lack of public awareness, interest,
and engagement 1 7.1 3 25.0 - - - - 7 26.9
Networks and Knowledge
Diculties in network formation 8 57.1 5 41.7 2 50.0 1 50.0 12 46.1
Coordination and communication
problems 8 57.1 5 41.7 1 25.0 - - 5 19.2
Dierent views and expectations
within networks 7 50.0 5 41.7 3 75.0 1 50.0 10 38.5
Problems in research and
knowledge development 8 57.1 4 33.3 3 75.0 - - 12 46.1
Lack of information and
knowledge 3 21.4 3 25.0 1 25.0 - - 6 23.1
Missing skills and competences 4 28.6 3 25.0 3 75.0 - - 6 23.1
Sectoral Routines and Structures
Low willingness and
restrictiveness to change 8 57.1 5 41.7 1 25.0 2 100.0 11 42.3
Lock-ins in infrastructures and
business models 7 50.0 7 58.3 2 50.0 1 50.0 9 34.6
Challenges related to standards 4 28.6 4 33.3 - - - - 5 19.2
Averages of identified
sub-categories of barriers per
paper
9.5 7.0 7.8 4.5 6.4
Source: own elaboration.
6. Discussion of Results
In this paper, we systematically analyzed how the transition towards a circular bioeconomy is
studied by transition scholars, taking into account four dimensions—the main objective of the studies,
the analytical framework applied, the geographical focus and the sectoral or value-chain focus of the
studies. The main findings of our study are summarized in Table 9.
Table 9. Summary of the main findings of the systematic literature review.
Investigated Dimension
Results of the Analysis
addressing the Research
Field in General
Results of the Analysis
addressing the Applied
Frameworks within the
Research Field
Results of the Analysis
addressing identified Barriers
Main objectives
Most studies had the
objective to analyze key
factors and the role and
perspectives of actors.
Understanding the role
of policies and changes
within established
sectors were less
investigated aspects.
TIS was mostly used to
analyze policies and
their eects; MLP was
used for exploring the
changes carried out by
incumbent firms or their
role in the transition.
Studies assessing policies and
publications addressing key
factors identify nine
sub-categories of barrier per
document, while studies aiming
at observing stakeholders and
incumbent firms identify less
than six.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 17 of 25
Table 9. Cont.
Investigated Dimension
Results of the Analysis
addressing the Research
Field in General
Results of the Analysis
addressing the Applied
Frameworks within the
Research Field
Results of the Analysis
addressing identified Barriers
Sectors and value chains
Few studies analyzed the
transition towards the
bioeconomy in general.
The others focused on a
wide range of sectors
(major focusing on fuels
and energy). In addition,
the majority of the
studies observed
changes within sectors
unrelated to a particular
value chain or value
chain step. Studies with
a value-chain-focus most
frequently analyzed
wood-based
building blocks.
There was not a clear
tendency to choose a
certain framework to
analyze a particular
sector. However, TIS is
often used to address
innovation systems
around biorefineries,
while MLP is frequently
used for observing
change within the
primary and
construction sectors.
Studies with a value chain
perspective identified the largest
number of sub-categories of
barriers per paper, mostly
related to Technology and
Material, Market and
Investment Conditions,
and Knowledge and Networks.
Publications focusing on a
certain sector addressed more
barriers within the Sectoral
Routines and Structures
category. Barriers clustered as
Policies and Regulations and
Social Acceptance were most
frequently addressed by studies
that observe the bioeconomy
in general.
Geographical scale
Most of the studies
observed the transition
with a national focus,
mostly on north
European countries.
Also relevant were
studies focusing on a
regional or local scale.
Very minor studies were
carried out at an
EU level.
TIS, MLP and
“other/new” frameworks
were mostly used for
studies that focused on a
national level. SNM
studies in our selection
were distributed along
all types of
geographical scales.
Studies with a cross-national
perspective identified, on
average, nine barrier
sub-categories,
while publications that drew
their conclusions from national-
and European-level data found
approximately seven
sub-categories of barriers.
Applied Theoretical frameworks
TIS was the most applied
theoretical framework,
followed by MLP and
SNM. However, a large
number of the studies
made use of alternative
approaches that
combined one or two
frameworks, most of
them building on MLP.
n.a.
Studies adopting TIS discovered
a broader range of barriers,
mostly, but not exclusively,
related to policies.
Source: own elaboration.
The results highlight that much work has been done to contribute to the understanding of the
transition to a bioeconomy by observing factors influencing the transition, such as the impact of certain
events [
58
], or by identifying supportive transition preconditions [
59
]. In addition, scholars are strongly
concerned with the identification of the “actors/stakeholders” of the bioeconomy, e.g., by conducting
Social Network Analysis [60].
We observed a tendency in the studies to either focus on change within a specific sector, such as
historical development within incumbent firms, or to adopt a value chain perspective by exploring the
emergence of novel value chains. The result is that scholars cover a wide range of sectors and value
chains, reflecting the multi-sectoral [
61
] and complex character of the bioeconomy. However, we also
noted that some sectors, such as textile and pharma, are not addressed by the analyzed transition
studies. The results also highlight that studies of the transition to a bioeconomy mainly focus on
wood-based and agriculture-based value chains. This may be linked to the fact that Northern European
countries, characterized by a strong forest-based bioeconomy [
62
], are often the focus of investigation.
It also indicates, however, that the concept of a circular bioeconomy and its implications for changes to
existing sectors plays a less prominent role than the emergence of new, bio-based value chains. This is
an important gap in the literature.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 18 of 25
The geographical dimension revealed a major focus on national-level studies and a research gap
in terms of studies at an European Union level. Again, this may be related to the multi-dimensional
and multi-sectoral aspects of the bioeconomy. The bioeconomy strongly depends on the primary sector,
which has a strong local or regional dimension. Nevertheless, its development is influenced by higher
levels of governance. This points to the challenge of integrating dierent dimensions of analysis, in this
case the various levels of governance. Moreover, it is important to note that studies applying a TIS
approach do not address developments at a regional or local level, while only a small share of MLP
studies do so. Indeed, the review process of identified barriers highlighted the importance of studying
the regional and national particularities influencing the transition process. Deepening knowledge of
the role of these conditions could help make insights from in-depth studies applicable to learning about
similar cases. Hence, we consider cross-national or cross-regional studies as fruitful contributions to
identifying the impact of varying conditions in terms of resource availability and national and regional
regulatory frameworks for transition towards a bioeconomy.
The conducted review of the major barriers hampering transition towards a bioeconomy shows
how the choice of a particular theoretical framework shapes the perspectives of studies on transition
problems. More specifically, our analysis shows that studies analyzing the transition through TIS
identified barriers along all categories of barriers, highlighting the important role of TIS in conducting
transition studies. Indeed, most of the barriers related to missing policies are identified only by TIS,
while both, TIS and MLP studies, identified a broad range of barriers within the sub-category to
Unfavorable Policies and Politics and Implementation Problems. Furthermore, TIS studies did not
identify a broad range of challenges related to the production of biomass and dependency on local
conditions. As expected, on average, most challenges related to Networks and Knowledge were identified
by SNM studies.
Furthermore, our findings indicate that only few studies emphasize on barriers related to
Social Acceptance. This is in line with the findings of other literature reviews, which argue that,
despite the need for a broad involvement of disciplines, the bioeconomy research field is still
dominated by studies related to engineering, chemistry, medicine or biology, while social and economic
perspectives are underrepresented [
9
]. Similarly, Piefer et al. [
63
] argue that the currently dominating
technology-based view of transition pathways leads to certain shortcomings in regard to the addressed
research topics, mainly in social science. In this sense, we observed that, even though some publications
elaborate on the role of society as consumers of bio-based products, the studies hardly emphasize
society as citizens with an active role expressing their preferences or opposition through political or
social participation. In this sense, Ladu et al. [
64
] highlight a need for improving the policy mix by
redesigning social dimension policy measures to support the desired transition to a circular forest
bioeconomy. Imbert et al. [
65
] argue that awareness raising represents an important policy driver that
has an important facilitating role in reinforcing the overall impact of the overall policy mix. This is
particularly important for establishing a circular bioeconomy, which leverages recycling and the use of
waste as a feedstock [
66
]. Indeed, customers’ perception and acceptance of the new waste-generated
material is key to its success. However, consumer-facing issues such as consumer acceptance are
under-represented in the literature and need to be better explored [
6
] in order to enable a successful
shift to a circular bioeconomy.
Finally, we observed that, in the majority of the analyzed studies, the sustainability of particular
aspects of the transition was assumed, while only a few critically reflect on the sustainability of the
analyzed phenomena (e.g., [67]).
7. Conclusions
As highlighted above, research into the circular bioeconomy remains fragmented, focusing on
relatively isolated dimensions of the transition. Analysis that seeks to link dierent geographic
dimensions or sectoral and value-chain-based foci is rare. This also means that the identification of
barriers takes place in dierent spheres, failing to link aspects related to the incumbent regime
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 19 of 25
with the challenges of emerging technologies and industries. As Weber and Rohracher [
25
]
point out, MLP and TIS therefore provide complementary perspectives. For the bioeconomy field,
however, a complementary approach may not be sucient to make relevant progress in identifying
policy entry-points, as the emergence of new technologies is strongly related to the need to integrate
them in existing sectoral structures. This paper suggests that to derive a truly comprehensive set of
barriers for policy formulation, a combined perspective is needed. To do so, additional conceptual
development, aimed at integrating these perspectives in a single approach, might be promising.
There are few attempts to integrate a value chain perspective within a sector-based perspective.
This highlights a research gap and calls for the need to study how sectorial transitions (e.g., the chemistry
or plastic manufacturing sectors) and the development of new value chains are related to each other
in the transition to a circular bioeconomy. This is also apparent from the barriers that emerge from
studies taking a TIS or an MLP approach, respectively. While TIS studies are more likely to identify
policy-related and network-related barriers, MLP studies reveal issues related to sectoral routines and
lock-in eects. Correspondingly, most MLP studies follow a sectoral logic and do not address specific
value chains, while TIS studies follow the opposite logic. It is likely that this stems from the focus
on structural changes in MLP and the focus on the emergence of new technologies and the related
institutional and structural features.
Alternatively, it may be fruitful to conduct a more in-depth, integrated study of barriers, drawing on
the existing literature and aiming for the development of specific policy conclusions. Such a study
could take this review as a starting point. To provide a manageable focus for such an endeavor, such a
study might focus on the central concepts of a circular bioeconomy, such as the cascading use of
biomass. This could help frame the analysis according to the intended logic of a circular bioeconomy
rather than basing it on pre-existing structures or emerging technologies alone.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, A.G., L.L., and R.Q.; methodology A.G. and L.L.; software, A.G.;
validation, A.G., L.L. and R.Q.; formal analysis, A.G. and L.L.; investigation, A.G.;
resources, A.G., and L.L.;
data curation, A.G.; writing—original draft preparation, A.G. and L.L.; writing—review and editing,
A.G., L.L., and R.Q.;
visualization, A.G., L.L., and R.Q.; supervision, L.L. and R.Q.; project administration,
L.L.; funding acquisition, L.L. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
This work has been financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
through the project “BioTOP-Transition oriented innovation policies for bioeconomy” (FZK 031B0781B).
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Appendix A
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Hekkert, M. P., Suurs, R. A. A.,
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TECHNOLOGICAL
FORECASTING AND
SOCIAL CHANGE
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TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS &
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sustainability), and the multi-level perspective RESEARCH POLICY
Loorbach, D. 2010
Transition Management for Sustainable
Development: A Prescriptive, Complexity-Based
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GOVERNANCE-AN
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF
POLICY ADMINISTRATION
AND INSTITUTIONS
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CLIMATIC CHANGE
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Bergek, A., Jacobsson, S., Carlsson,
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technological innovation systems RESEARCH POLICY
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technological systems EVOLUTIONARY ECONOMICS
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TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS &
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biorefinery innovation networks
TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS &
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT
Sutherland, L.-A., Peter, S., & Zagata, L.
2015
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RESEARCH POLICY
Mossberg, J., Soderholm, P., Hellsmark,
H. and Nordqvist, S. 2018
Crossing the biorefinery valley of death? Actor
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ENVIRONMENTAL
INNOVATION AND SOCIETAL
TRANSITIONS
Mertens, A., Van Lancker, J., Buysse, J.,
Lauwers, L. and Van Meensel, J. 2019
Overcoming non-technical challenges in
bioeconomy value-chain development:
Learning from practice
JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Carraresi, L., Berg, S. and Broring, S. 2018
Emerging value chains within the bioeconomy:
Structural changes in the case of
phosphate recovery
JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Swagemakers, P; Garcia, MDD;
Wiskerke, JSC 2018
Socially-Inclusive Development and Value
Creation: How a Composting Project in Galicia
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Falcone, P. M. 2018
Analysing stakeholders’ perspectives towards a
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AIMS ENERGY
Giurca, A. and Spath, P. 2017
A forest-based bioeconomy for Germany?
Strengths, weaknesses and policy options for
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ENVIRONMENTAL
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Hedeler, B., Lettner, M., Stern, T.,
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Strategic decisions on knowledge development
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Hellsmark, H. and Soderholm, P. 2017
Innovation policies for advanced biorefinery
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Hellsmark, H., Mossberg, J., Soderholm,
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Innovation system strengths and weaknesses in
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BIOFUELS BIOPRODUCTS &
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Van Lancker, J., Wauters, E. and Van
Huylenbroeck, G. 2019
OPEN INNOVATION IN PUBLIC RESEARCH
INSTITUTES-SUCCESS AND
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BIOMASS & BIOENERGY
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the Bioeconomy-Innovation System Analysis SUSTAINABILITY
van Leeuwen, K; de Vries, E; Koop, S;
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ENVIRONMENTAL
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AGROECOSYSTEM DIVERSITY:
RECONCILING
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ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
Rex, E., Rosander, E., Royne, F., Veide,
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RESOURCES CONSERVATION
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JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Grundel, I, Dahlstrom, M 2016
A Quadruple and Quintuple Helix Approach to
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JOURNAL OF THE
KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY
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Toppinen, A 2018 Actors and Politics in Finland’s Forest-Based
Bioeconomy Network SUSTAINABILITY
Luhas, J., Mikkila, M., Uusitalo, V. and
Linnanen, L. 2019
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SUSTAINABILITY
Pannicke, N, Gawel, E, Hagemann, N,
Purkus, A, Strunz, S 2015 The Political Economy of Fostering a
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GERMAN JOURNAL OF
AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
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Alwarsdotter, Y., Brucher, J. and Heuts,
L.
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FROM GREEN FOREST TO GREEN
COMMODITY CHEMICALS-EXPERIENCES
FROM CROSS-SECTOR COLLABORATION
AND CONSEQUENCES FOR
IMPLEMENTATION
PAPERS OF THE 25TH
EUROPEAN
BIOMASS CONFERENCE
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R. 2020
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FOREST POLICY
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Internal and external factors of competitiveness
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CONSTRUCTION
MANAGEMENT AND
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Ehrenfeld, W. and Kropfhausser, F. 2017
Plant-based bioeconomy in Central Germany-a
mapping of actors, industries and places
TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS &
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT
Giurca, A. and Metz, T. 2018
A social network analysis of Germany’s
wood-based bioeconomy: Social capital and
shared beliefs
FOREST POLICY AND
ECONOMICS
Metze, T., Schuitmaker, T. J., Bitsch, L.
and Broerse, J. 2017
Breaking barriers for a bio-based economy:
Interactive reflection on monitoring
water quality
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE &
POLICY
Scordato, L., Bugge, M. M. and
Fevolden, A. M. 2017
Directionality across Diversity: Governing
Contending Policy Rationales in the Transition
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SUSTAINABILITY
Vivien, FD, Nieddu, M, Befort, N,
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Wreford, A., Bayne, K., Edwards, P. and
Renwick, A. 2019 Enabling a transformation to a bioeconomy in
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ENVIRONMENTAL
INNOVATION AND SOCIETAL
TRANSITIONS
Bauer, F. and Fuenfschilling, L. 2019
Local initiatives and global
regimes-Multi-scalar transition dynamics in the
chemical industry
JOURNAL OF
CLEANER PRODUCTION
Purkus, A., Hagemann, N., Bedtke, N.
and Gawel, E. 2018
Towards a sustainable innovation system for
the German wood-based bioeconomy:
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JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 22 of 25
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SUSTAINABILITY
Lopolito, A., Prosperi, M.,; Sisto, R., De
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JOURNAL OF RURAL STUDIES
Hansen, L. and Bjorkhaug, H. 2017 Visions and Expectations for the
Norwegian Bioeconomy SUSTAINABILITY
Hodgson, E., Ruiz-Molina, M. E.,
Marazza, D., Pogrebnyakova, E., Burns,
C., Higson, A., Rehberger, M., Hiete, M.,
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Y., Woods, J. and Gallagher, J.
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BIOFUELS BIOPRODUCTS &
BIOREFINING-BIOFPR
Bueno, CD, da Silveira, JMFJ, Buainain,
AM, Dal Poz, MES 2018 Applying an IPC network to identify the
bioenergy technological frontier
REVISTA BRASILEIRA
DE INOVACAO
Sanz-Hernandez, A., Sanagustin-Fons,
M. V. and Lopez-Rodriguez, M. E. 2019 A transition to an innovative and inclusive
bioeconomy in Aragon, Spain
ENVIRONMENTAL
INNOVATION AND SOCIETAL
TRANSITIONS
Groves, C., Sankar, M. and Thomas, P. J.
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the Sustainability of Bioenergy Innovation SUSTAINABILITY
Giezen, M 2018
Shifting Infrastructure Landscapes in a Circular
Economy: An Institutional Work Analysis of
the Water and Energy Sector
SUSTAINABILITY
Lyytimaki, J 2018
Renewable energy in the news: Environmental,
economic, policy and technology discussion
of biogas
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AND CONSUMPTION
Bennett, S. J. and Pearson, P. J. G. 2009
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The past and prospective co-evolution of liquid
fuels and chemicals production in the UK
CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
RESEARCH & DESIGN
Pelli, P and Lahtinen, K 2020
Servitization and bioeconomy transitions:
Insights on prefabricated wooden elements
supply networks
JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Bosman, R., Loorbach, D., Rotmans, J.
and van Raak, R. 2018 Carbon Lock-Out: Leading the Fossil Port of
Rotterdam into Transition SUSTAINABILITY
Mores, G. D., Finocchio, C. P. S.,
Barichello, R. and Pedrozo, E. A. 2018 Sustainability and innovation in the Brazilian
supply chain of green plastic
JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Busu, C. and Busu, M. 2019
ECONOMIC MODELING IN THE
MANAGEMENT OF TRANSITION TO
BIOECONOMY
AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC
Lyytimaki, J.;,Nygren, NA., Pulkka, A.
and Rantala, S. 2018
Energy transition looming behind the
headlines? Newspaper coverage of biogas
production in Finland
ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY
AND SOCIETY
Imbert, E., Ladu, L., Morone, P. and
Quitzow, R. 2017
Comparing policy strategies for a transition to
a bioeconomy in Europe: The case of Italy
and Germany
ENERGY RESEARCH &
SOCIAL SCIENCE
Imbert, E., Ladu, L., Tani, A. and
Morone, P. 2019
The transition towards a bio-based economy: A
comparative study based on social
network analysis
JOURNAL OF
ENVIRONMENTALMANAGEMENT
Falcone, P. M., Tani, A., Tartiu, V. E. and
Imbriani, C. 2020
Towards a sustainable forest-based bioeconomy
in Italy: Findings from a SWOT analysis
FOREST POLICY
AND ECONOMICS
Sustainability 2020,12, 8990 23 of 25
Author Year Title Journal
Hansen, L 2019
The Weak Sustainability of the Salmon Feed
Transition in Norway-A Bioeconomic
Case Study
FRONTIERS IN
MARINE SCIENCE
Strom-Andersen, Nhat 2019
Incumbents in the Transition Towards the
Bioeconomy: The Role of Dynamic Capabilities
and Innovation Strategies
JOURNAL OF CLEANER
PRODUCTION
Scordato, L., Klitkou, A., Tartiu, V. E.
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JOURNAL OF CLEANER
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Soderholm, K., Bergquist, A. K. and
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regulation and R&D collaboration
JOURNAL OF CLEANER
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... Duan et al. (2020), in turn, addressed technical, financial, and social awareness challenges and barriers in the context of organic solid waste biorefineries, which revolve around biomass supply and transportation, investment in equipment and facilities as well as managing product demand, and expertise of workforce and sustainability awareness, respectively. On a more general tone, Gottinger et al. (2020) addressed the barriers to the transition to a CBE, which can be summarized in barriers related to policies and regulations, technology and material, market and investment conditions, social acceptance, knowledge and networks, and sectoral routines and structures. ...
... al. (2020); Clauser et al. (2021); Gyalai-Korpos et al. (2018); Jain et al. (2022);Marcinek and Smol (2020);Qin et al. (2021);Leong et al. (2021aLeong et al. ( , 2021b;Stegmann et al. (2020);Temmes and Peck (2020);Tsegaye et al. et al. (2020);Gottinger et al. (2020);Gyalai-Korpos et al. (2018);Stegmann et al. al. (2021aStegmann et al. al. ( , 2021b; Gyalai-Korpos et al. (2018); Menon and Lyng (2021); Muscat et al. (2021); Salvador et al. public/consumer awareness Barcelos et al. (2021); Donner and de Vries (2021a, 2021b); Donner et al. (2021a, 2021b); Duan et al. (2020); Egelyng et al. (2018); Gottinger et al. (2020); Gregg et al. (2020); Jarre et al. (2020); Ladu et al. (2020); Mak et al. (2020); Marcinek and Smol (2020); Mikielewicz et al. (2020); Salvador et al. (2021b); et al. (2020); Brandão et al. (2021); Donner et al. (2021a, 2021b); Falcone et al. (2020); Gottinger et al. (2020); Negi et al. (2021); Sandvold et al. (2019); Temmes and Peck (2020); Santagata et al. et al. (2021a, 2021b); Solis et al. (2020) 14 C-13 final product quality/efficiency Cheng et al. (2020); Parthasarathy and Narayanan (2014) 0 C-14 lack of knowledge/skills/competencies Gottinger et al. (2020); Falcone et al. (2020); Hagman et al. (2019); Kapoor et al. (2020); Negi et al. (2021) 4 C-15 product portfolio of biorefineries might vary over time Donner et al. (2020); Hagman et al. (2019); Tsegaye et al. (2021) 1 C-16 lack of adequate technology Awasthi et al. (2019); Awasthi et al. (2020); Barros et al. (2020); Barcelos et al. (2021); D'Amato et al. (2020); Donner and de Vries (2021a, 2021b); Donner et al. (2021a, 2021b); Duan et al. (2020); Falcone et al. (2020); Kapoor et al. (2020); Kershaw et al. (2021); Leong et al. (2021a, 2021b); Liu et al. (2021); Marcinek and Smol (2020); Menon and Lyng (2021); Mohan et al. (2016); Mohan et al. (2018); Morone and Imbert (2020); Sandvold et al. (2019); Santagata et al. (2021); Sarma et al. (2021); WBCSD (2019) 11 C-17 lack of standardization of inputs Donner et al. (2021a, 2021b); Jarre et al. (2020); Maina et al. (2017); Marcinek and Smol (2020); Morone and Imbert (2020) 0 C-18 lack of regulations and policies to promote environmentally sound product design Gottinger et al. (2020); Jarre et al. (2020); Maina et al. (2017); Stegmann et al. (2020) 7 C-19 lack of incentive for upcycling Donner et al. (2020); Egelyng et al. (2018); Jarre et al. (2020); Stegmann et al. (2020); Temmes and Peck ( ...
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High rates of resource consumption and waste generation have put pressure on environmental systems and one of the solutions to this concerning behavior is a circular bioeconomy (CBE). However, for a CBE to succeed, new businesses and business models are needed, for which many drawbacks might be faced. Therefore, this article aimed (i) to identify the drivers, opportunities, challenges, and barriers for businesses in a CBE both from theoretical and practical perspectives, and (ii) to present the regional differences in those aspects for different continents. A mixed-method approach was adopted, comprising a systematic literature review and semi-structured interviews with 32 organizations from 18 countries in 4 continents (Africa, America, Australia, and Europe). Eight barriers and twenty challenges, as well as fifteen drivers and eight opportunities were identified. The main barrier and challenge pointed out by stakeholders were lack of financial resources/capital, and price competitiveness with traditional/linear product offers. The most prominent driver and opportunity were establishment of public policies/governmental support, and waste recovery. Regional aspects of CBEs (by continent) were also identified. Advancing CBEs requires setting strategies to overcome the lack of financial resources/capital, developing and/or making the adequate technology available locally, and enabling price competitiveness with traditional (linear and non-renewable-based) options. This study also unveils a series of managerial and business implications. There is the risk of rebound effects, such as waste becoming mainstream feedstock and bioproducts being introduced to the market on low-price strategies, thus triggering increased consumption. Premium pricing strategies need to be considered for bio-based products (compared with non-bio-based products). Moreover, technological development plays a role in driving innovation, and pioneers might lead the development of policies. For CBE systems to succeed there needs to be further technological development and greater connection among the actors in the value chain, converging in resilient circular business models for a CBE.
... The review of literature was based on the STARR LCA framework (Zumsteg et al. 2012) to ensure consistency in the review. Figure 1 is a flow diagram adopted from Gottinger et al. (2020) and modified as per STARR LCA guidelines to aid understanding of the reviewing process and thus increase the transparency of the study. ...
... The review process in compliance to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Source: adapted fromGottinger et al. (2020) ...
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... In order to meet the sustainability criteria, the European Union committed itself as a leader in global climate action and reaching netzero greenhouse gases (GHG) emission targets until 2050 (Bandeiras et al., 2020;Say et al., 2018). Such an ambitious target related to holding temperature increase below 2 • C requires a coherent strategy for the modernization of the European industry and economy as introduced in the European Commission's strategic long-term vision for 2050 -A Clean Planet for All (Gottinger et al., 2020). As widely accepted, the building sector is considered very energy-intensive, even compared to the transportation or industry in the European Union, since it is responsible for ~40% of the total energy production and ~36% of carbon dioxide emissions (Li et al., 2019a;Filippidou et al., 2017). ...
... In other words, despite many initiatives aimed at the minimization of environmental footprint, the building sector still has the greatest potential for energy efficiency improvements since a very significant part of current building stock was built in the previous century when the requirements for energy efficiency were lower. Given today's possibilities in terms of materials used, insulation, or heating methods, together with the fact that the building sector is the most energy-intensive sector, substantial improvements can be achieved (Gottinger et al., 2020;Sesana and Salvalai, 2018). Nevertheless, the energy efficiency of the current building stock in the EU does not meet the modern criteria, and more than 75% of the buildings are inefficient (Sesana and Salvalai, 2018). ...
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... Por último, en los casos de Byproductplace y Kimitec Agro, las actividades de BEC han sido la forma de encauzar el espíritu emprendedor de determinadas personas, que han buscado en este sector una oportunidad para el autoempleo. Gottinger et al. (2020) han realizado un estudio reciente basado en la literatura académica disponible sobre el proceso de transición hacia iniciativas empresariales de BEC, en el que han clasificado las principales barreras encontradas en seis categorías: ...
... Para ello, se ha preguntado expresamente a las personas entrevistadas sobre una serie de aspectos que puedan afectar negativamente al desarrollo de estas. La Tabla 4 recoge dichos factores y muestra su vinculación directa con cinco de las categorías de barreras identificadas por Gottinger et al. (2020). Al igual que para los factores habilitantes, la valoración de la importancia relativa de los factores limitantes para cada una de las iniciativas empresariales consideradas en este informe se recoge en el Anexo 3. ...
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El informe (disponible en https://juntadeandalucia.es/sites/default/files/2022-01/Informe_BEC-Andalucia_Publicacion.pdf) presenta los resultados de un estudio sobre factores habilitantes y limitantes que se ha llevado a cabo mediante la realización de entrevistas a responsables de empresas que pueden ser consideradas casos de éxito de la bioeconomía circular (BEC) en Andalucía. La muestra ha consistido en 21 empresas representativas desde el punto de vista sectorial, geográfico, de dimensión y de tipo de empresa. Las respuestas se han recogido en un cuestionario semiestructurado para la caracterización de su actividad y para la identificación y determinación de la importancia relativa de los factores habilitantes y limitantes de sus líneas de negocio. Finalmente, se ha agregado la información cuantitativa y cualitativa de los factores analizados y se ha realizado un análisis descriptivo global y sectorial. El informe ha sido elaborado por el equipo de investigación del grupo WEARE (http://www.uco.es/investiga/grupos/weare/), con sede en la Universidad de Córdoba, por encargo de la Secretaría General de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación de la Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible de la Junta de Andalucía, como parte del proyecto POWER4BIO (https://power4bio.eu/), financiado por el programa de investigación e innovación Horizonte 2020 de la Unión Europea en virtud del acuerdo de subvención nº 818351.
... Additionally, a systemic literature review of the different companies identified that supply chain management, economic, financial, market competition, product attributes, standards and regulations, technological, and consumer behavior play a critical role in the adoption of CE (Bressanelli et al., 2019). A few notable studies have also associated low awareness of CE (De Medici et al., 2018), economic efficiency (Stahel, 2013), policies and regulations (Gottinger et al., 2020), technology and materials' availability (Gusmerotti et al., 2019), social acceptance (Madonna, 2020), and collaboration between stakeholders (Buch et al., 2018) with the factors affecting the adoption of CE. ...
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... However, successful development of a circular economy requires more than technical feasibility. Considerations like economic and environmental sustainability should also be addressed, as circularity does not automatically ensure sustainability [47]. Particularly in the case of P, any new products would compete with the established phosphate mining industry that benefits from high efficiency and economies of scale [48], which will make it difficult for other P industries to compete purely on an economic basis. ...
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Fish bone by-products from the fish processing industry contain significant amounts of phosphates, which could be utilized as animal feed supplements that substitute conventional mined rock phosphates. The study evaluated whether two by-product derived ingredients (fish bone meal and inorganic dicalcium phosphate extracted from fish bones) could substitute conventional dietary phosphorous sources in formulated diets for African catfish, Clarias gariepinus, and thereby demonstrate a pathway through which these by-products can be valorised and utilized through a circular economy approach. Conventional feed phosphates were 100% substituted by fish bone meal (treatment FB), and 100% and 50% by inorganic dicalcium phosphate (treatments DCP100 and DCP50 respectively). All experimental diets sustained high specific growth rates of 4.83–4.99%.day⁻¹, without any differences in final animal weight or body condition factor between treatments. Blood serum indicators of non-specific immune function were unaffected by dietary treatment, as were vertebrae mineral content and the Ca:P ratio. Whole body lipid accumulation was found for both diets that substituted 100% of conventional phosphates, but in the absence of other evidence it is unlikely that this indicates decreased dietary phosphorous availability of the ingredients. The study concludes that fish bone meal and inorganic dicalcium phosphate extracted from fish by-products can be a viable alternative dietary source of phosphorous, at least in the case of Clarias gariepinus. It is recommended that future research should include determining economic viability of these ingredients in aquafeeds, on estimating whether these ingredients cause increased environmental impacts relative to conventional mined feed phosphates. Graphical Abstract
... In this sense, the bio-waste valorization approach plays a fundamental role in bringing circularity to the bioeconomy. However, the success of the circular bioeconomy requires modern technology, innovation, and knowledge of tradition [32]. Finally, with the growing attention to the circular economy, the exploitation of underused or discarded marine material can represent a sustainable strategy for realizing the circular bioeconomy, with the production of materials with high added value [33]. ...
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... Thus, lack of market demand, low profitability and investment conditions in a country like Pakistan is a predominant barrier in transitioning towards the CBE especially in the agriculture sector. The same evidence has been reported in many other developing countries (Gottinger et al., 2020;Kokkinos et al., 2020). Hence, transitioning towards cleaner production and consumption practices would require the active participation of all stakeholders. ...
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