Industrial biotechnology (IB) – also known as white biotechnology – uses enzymes and micro-organisms to make biobased products in sectors as diverse as chemicals, food and feed, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles and bioenergy.
The process works by transforming agricultural products or organic waste (also referred to as renewable raw materials) into other substances, in the same way as crude oil is used as a feedstock in the production of chemicals. In this way, industrial biotechnology can save energy in production processes and lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, helping to fight global warming. It can also lead to improved performance and sustainability for industry and higher value products.
Biobased products already on the market include biopolymer fibres which are used in both construction and household applications, biodegradable plastics, biofuels, lubricants and industrial enzymes such as those used in detergents or in paper and food processing. Biotechnological processes also constitute a key element in the manufacturing of some antibiotics, vitamins, amino acids and other fine chemicals.