Theme: Planting the future – Potential for innovation of renewable resources
Exhibition targets: Today's economic performance mainly relies on the use of fossil resources. At the same time, the price we have to pay is becoming ever more perceptible: Climate changes with all that these imply, air, water and soil pollution as well as the depletion of essential raw materials.
The search for solutions and alternatives has begun: The farming and forestry sector are turning into ever more important suppliers of raw materials in a so-called "sustainable bio-based economy" and renewable resources are thus becoming the basis for economic activity.
Just as other countries, Germany has faced these challenges: On the basis of a "Policy Strategy on Bioeconomy" applicable since 2013, the sustainable bio-based economy shall be developed most urgently.
Technical, economic, ecological and political measures are required to establish a sustainable bioeconomy; but this path can only be successful if, apart from these measures, all social actors are involved in this transformation from the start. With this in mind, it is essential to provide opportunities to the consumers to "experience" and "touch" the potentials of a sustainable bioeconomy.
This is what the German EXPO contribution wants to achieve.
Exhibition content and background:
Under the motto "PLANTING THE FUTURE – Potential for Innovation of Renewable resources", the chances that we already have today of using renewable raw materials and the products made of them are shown for four areas of everyday life.
1. Herbs and extracts - special plant substances
The extraction and use of special plant substances reach far back into the history of humanity and represent an important link between natural science, technology, business and culture. The horticultural crop production plays an important role for the extraction of special plant substances and can still be enhanced in the future.
Cosmetics, detergents and of course biological medicinal products are significant fields of application of special plant substances. The consumers hardly notice that there are also many other products of everyday life containing special plant substances. And the potential is far from being fully exploited. There are new product developments in the field of pest control, industrial cleaners, veterinary medicine and food supplements, just to mention a few examples.
Special substances are extracted from 50,000 to 70,000 different plants worldwide. Germany is one of the most prominent processors of plant substances in Europe. More than 90 % of these are imported, among other countries from Turkey. The substances originate mainly from wild crop collections, but there is an increasing trend towards selected cultivation since this is the only way to ensure a quality assuring traceability.
The part of the exhibition devoted to "Herbs and Extracts" presents the opportunities and advantages of using special plant substances as a specific feature of renewable raw materials for a variety of products of everyday life.
2. The renewable office
17 million people spend most of their working day in an office in Germany. In addition, there are also students and schoolchildren sitting in front of the screen and a desk many hours a day. This accounts for a considerable part of lifetime spent in closed rooms, surrounded by products made mostly of petroleum-based products.
Not least because of the buoyant market development of products from renewable resources are varied, innovative and ecologically compatible articles of daily use for office workplaces available today. These allow an environmentally-friendly design of buildings and offices meeting modern requirements of indoor climate, appearance and health aspects. Many employers have realised that considering these "soft" factors can help to increase motivation and identification of their staff with the enterprise.
If the holistic economic analysis also factors in aspects such as long term use, high quality and CO2 savings potentials, the occasionally higher costs resulting from using products from renewable raw materials can partly be compensated.
The part of the exhibition devoted to "The Renewable Office" displays almost 100 very different products from renewable raw materials: wooden building material, floor coverings made of wood, linoleum and goat hair, walls with loam and natural colours and of course many office supplies.
In horticulture, even more fossil-based plastics are used than in the farming and forestry sector: Plant pots, mulch films or plant clips are often indispensable support tools. In order to avoid environmental pollution by these products, they have to be recollected, cleaned and recycled after use. This entails enormous additional efforts. Products made of bioplastics that biodegrade after a certain time or can be composted are therefore in great demand in particular in horticulture.
But bio-based products also get top marks for their eco-friendliness when it comes to input products, such as petrol and lubricants. In case they reach the soil or waters systematically or due to an accident, the impact on the environment is considerably reduced thanks to their property of being "rapidly biodegradable".
The wide range of products and the multitude of possible applications are depicted in the part of the exhibition devoted to "Horticulture".
4. Building with renewable raw materials
Building with renewable raw materials is an integral part of German culture and construction history. And even today concrete and steel have not been able to properly replace wood as a building material. We are now seeing a tentative trend reversal begin to emerge: Building and living with renewable raw materials is "in" again. This has not only ecological but also economic and, not least, creative advantages to it.
The pallet of renewable building materials is large. Besides construction materials it also includes insulating materials, floor coverings, wall coverings, paints and varnishes as well as furniture.
In particular the use of wood in new buildings and renovations has increased sharply. The market is picking up thanks to innovative, novel building materials, such as wood-plastic composites (WPC), which now have a share of 15% on the terrace decking market. Bioplastic products are increasingly gaining in importance in other areas too such as in their use as climate-responsive facade components. The use of Insulating materials produced from renewable raw materials is also growing at a significant rare. Wooden furniture now makes up more than 2/3 of the total furniture market again.
In terms of sustainability and ecology, building materials produced from renewable raw materials offer a significant advantage: they store the carbon dioxide, which the plants absorbed whilst growing, over a very long lifecycle.
The part of the exhibition devoted to "building with renewable raw materials" provides an insight into the huge variety of products. The exhibits also illustrate that natural building materials are able to meet high technical demands very well.