The transition toward more sustainable industries opens the way for alternative solutions based upon new economic models using agricultural inputs or biomass to substitute oil-based inputs. In this context different generations of biorefinery complexes are evolving rapidly and highlight the numerous possibilities for the organization of processing activities, from supply to final markets. The evolution of these biorefineries has followed two main business models, the port biorefinery, based on the import of raw materials, and the territorial biorefinery, based on strong relationships with local (or regional) supply bases. In this article we focus on the concept of the ‘territorial biorefinery’, seen as a new business model. We develop the idea of a link between the biorefinery and its territory through several relevant theoretical approaches and demonstrate that the definition of ‘territorial biorefinery’ does not achieve, from these theoretical backgrounds, a consensus. More importantly, we emphasise that the theoretical assumptions underlying the different definitions used should be made explicit in order to facilitate the manner in which practioners study, develop and set up businesses of this kind.