Beyond Waste: The Role Of Agricultural Residuals In The Bioeconomy

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Beyond Waste: The Role Of Agricultural Residuals In The Bioeconomy

The future of agriculture is being shaped by debates about the most effective strategies to tackle food security, nutrition, resource scarcity, biodiversity loss, and climate change. The decisions we make in response to these challenges will profoundly influence the productivity and sustainability of the agricultural sector. In this panel discussion, we’ll bring together leaders from industry, policy, research, and finance to talk about the potentials that lie ahead for agricultural residuals as a nutrient source for industrial biotechnology processes. Agricultural and food industry residues consist of many and varied waste materials. Biotechnological processing can transform these waste products into valuable resources such as fuels, feeds, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals, biochemicals, enzymes, and biocomposites used in construction and packaging.

Canada does not have a comprehensive federal strategy for the bioeconomy. The 2022 Clean Fuel Regulation focuses on increasing the use of low-carbon fuels in transportation. By 2030, it is expected to boost consumption of low-carbon intensity diesel by 2.2 billion litres and ethanol by 700 million litres. Agricultural biomass is widely used to make both biodiesel and ethanol. Biodiesel is derived from oils like soybean or canola, whereas ethanol comes primarily from crops like corn or wheat. However, rather than committing to diverting food crops to produce biofuels and risking rising food prices and food scarcity, our focus will be on fostering long-term innovation. We’ll consider the option of integrating agriculture into a cross-sectoral bioeconomy strategy, without compromising agricultural productivity and food supplies.

This discussion encompasses a broader vision for agricultural waste management, spotlighting the emerging concept of biomass value webs. The implementation of this concept would require advances in data collection, the monitoring of biomass production and flows, and a commitment to circularity for waste and agricultural by-products. Additionally, we’ll delve into the current state of biotechnology and biomanufacturing in Canada, identifying opportunities for investment, resource efficiency and waste reduction, as well as the diversification of revenue streams. We’ll consider a case study of a biodigester recently approved for construction near a High River feedlot, after intense community pushback and extended legal proceedings. Ultimately, our goal is to explore the possibility of an agricultural sector that not only boosts agri-food productivity but also supplies nutrients for a bioeconomy beyond food, leveraging biotechnology and a strategic approach to advance Canada’s bioeconomy.


  • Jeff Passmore, CEO, Passmore Group Inc., Founder of Scaling Up bioeconomy conferences, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Dr. Davide Viaggi, Full Professor, Agricultural Economics and Rural Appraisal, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Kendra Donnelly, Managing Partner, CFO, Rimrock Cattle Company Ltd., High River, Alberta


Brandy Yanchyk, Independent documentary filmmaker and journalist

There is no cost to register. The webinar will be hosted via Zoom. Please feel free to share this invitation with colleagues that may be interested.

The School of Public Policy and the Simpson Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy is pleased to host the Simpson Centre Public Education Series.

The Simpson Centre mobilizes research for better policymaking and decision-making to realize a more sustainable agricultural industry. Strengthening the sustainability of agri-food and agribusiness means increasing food production to feed a growing global population, while attending to social and health impacts and the natural environment. We connect researchers, everyday people, industry stakeholders and government actors to scientific issues critical to the future of Canada’s agricultural and food system.

Contact us at with any questions.