May 4, 2022

Changing our relationship to nature, and our mindset, in order to transition “from a fossil-carbon economy and hydrocarbons to a carbohydrate economy” — that’s Orlando Rojas’ mission. And it’s about forging as many strategic alliances and joining as many networks as possible across the world to advance the low-carbon, next-gen technological innovations of UBC’s BioProducts Institute (BPI). If the term “bioproducts” doesn’t ring a bell, it refers to the creation of sustainable materials using renewable resources — versus, say, the ubiquitous, single-use plastics currently clogging our oceans and poisoning natural ecosystems. Dr. Rojas is the BPI Scientific Director, UBC professor of chemical and biological engineering and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Bioproducts. 

On behalf of BPI, Dr. Rojas has been collaborating with organizations such as The National Resources Institute Finland to accelerate scientific explorations, expand research into bio-based solutions and boost international exchange for research fellows, faculty and scholars, not to mention generate funding. The two have established the Boreal Alliance, in partnership with Finland’s FinnCERES, making it easier for all countries to leverage forest resources to make bioproducts. As well, UBC has joined the Global Bioeconomy Alliance, along with universities Unesp in Brazil, Germany’s TUM and Australia’s UQ. Last summer, BPI got $3.5 million from the Government of Canada to create personal protective equipment from BC forest waste and residues. Dr. Rojas asks us to imagine a world in which our medical, agriculture and personal care products all fit tidily into the circular cycle of renewables. Landfill bottles? No more. And there’s more, Dr. Rojas says: “This will generate economic and social benefits for British Columbia and increase the long-term competitiveness of its forest sector.”

Photo: Orlando Rojas

Dr. Orlando Rojas and the UBC BioProducts Institute are working towards building a sustainable economy of products that are low-carbon and renewable (photo: Orlando Rojas)

Read more about UBC’s BioProducts Institute.


  • Issues of Global Relevance
  • Partnership Opportunities
  • UBC as a Global Actor