Examining understanding, acceptance, and support for the biorefinery concept among EU policy-makers

Philip Peck, Simon J. Bennett, Rachelle Bissett-Amess, Jennifer Lenhart, Hamid Mozaffarian

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24 Citations (SciVal)


This paper outlines how an understanding of the processes of building cognitive and sociopolitical legitimacy is relevant to the formation of a biorefining sector. First we describe a number of theoretical insights into challenges faced by emerging industries and how these can relate to the formation of a biorefining sector. Second, we present the conduct and results of an initial exploration of understanding, acceptance, and support for the biorefinery concept among a sample of actors in the EU policy community. General conclusions of this study are then provided in these two areas. Addressing theory versus evidence from the field, it is found that many phenomena predicted by theory indeed appear in the empirical results and seem immediately relevant to the formative biorefining industry. Analysis of the perceptions of members of the policy community toward biorefinery-related environmental, social, policy, reputational and policy issues reveals that there are a number of areas where prompt action from the political and scientific communities could yield significant benefits. We conclude that theories enfolding the concepts of cognitive and sociopolitical legitimacy are relevant to discussions of biofuels, bioproducts and biorefining. Importantly, proponents of the biorefinery concept can draw upon a broad body of knowledge generated in both related and non-related industries, to support their work reducing barriers to the emergence of commercial biorefineries. A key area in this regard will be improved communication of biorefinery contributions to sustainable development. (C) 2009 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-383
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • policy sphere
  • policy
  • sociopolitical legitimacy
  • cognitive legitimacy
  • biomaterials
  • biorefinery
  • bioenergy
  • understanding
  • acceptance


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