The needed transition from a fossil-to a bio-based economy fosters the utilization of biological resources derived from recycled low value by-products and waste streams. Chain actors face multiple challenges associated with the adoption of novel processing technologies. Bio-based technologies might be related to high switching costs, missing downstream processing technologies, lack of quality standards, missing industry standards, emerging regulatory frameworks. Moreover, as previously unrelated actors form new relationships, value chains are moving towards new structural changes. This paper thus seeks to explore the challenges associated with the emergence of novel value chains with an exploratory case study approach that reviews a new process of recovering phosphate - a typical scarce and fundamental resource - from rapeseed oil press cakes. The contribution of our paper is thus not only to provide conclusions for this specific case, but also, and more importantly, to present a blueprint for other cases of scarce resources that require the establishment of novel supply chains to foster cascading usage of by-products. Expert interviews with different value chain actors have been conducted to investigate arising challenges, and derive implications and a further research agenda. Despite the advantages of the bio-based process, interviews revealed several challenges associated with the emergence of novel value chains: hesitation of respondents in making new investments in terms of equipment and know-how, missing complementary competencies, and difficulties in integrating different industrial sectors to engage in cross-industry innovation, such as food processing (rapeseed oil cakes) and specialty chemicals/mineral (phosphate and its derivatives). These exploratory results open the way for some useful recommendations, enabling us to propose an agenda for further research and policy development in areas such as: development of synergies between academia and industry; formulation of management strategies to support the flexibility of firms to capture opportunities associated with by-product valorization; building a systemic approach at a local level to implement bio-based technology clusters.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: May 10, 2018
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