Due to the significant quantities of waste generated by the Sri Lankan rice industry, circular bioeconomy methodologies were applied to examine value-adding entrepreneurial activities for rice industry by-products (RIB). The study was conceived after scouring the existing literature on agricultural waste management and interviewing experts in the field and the rice industry. In the first phase, the suitability of valorizing alternatives for RIB was considered via a multi-criteria decision-making method. Valorization options, such as biochar production, energy purposes, composting, and other activities, were evaluated using an analytical hierarchy process (AHP) based on four criteria, namely environmental, social, technical, and economic issues. The results indicated that the highest priority should be given to environmental, social, and economic considerations, with local priority vectors of 0.5887, 0.2552, and 0.0955, respectively. It was found that biochar production is the optimal valorization strategy for managing RIB in Sri Lanka. From these findings, the development of a sustainable business model for making biochar out of RIB was done based on commercial motivations and value addition in biochar manufacturing processes. The Business Model Canvas elements played a vital role in categorizing and interpreting the case study data. Though the RIB seems undervalued at present, it was found that as a direct result of environmental concerns, several stakeholders have developed RIB valorization with an emphasis on bioenergy generation and biochar production. Adequate subsidies (technology and knowledge), standard regulations, more collective actions for creating economies of scale, and marketing strategies (consumer awareness) are all necessary for the successful implementation of sustainable circular business models.
Illankoon, W.A.M.A.N.; Milanese, C.; Karunarathna, A.K.; Liyanage, K.D.H.E.; Alahakoon, A.M.Y.W.; Rathnasiri, P.G.; Collivignarelli, M.C.; Sorlini, S. Evaluating Sustainable Options for Valorization of Rice By-Products in Sri Lanka: An Approach for a Circular Business Model. Agronomy 2023, 13, 803. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13030803