The bioeconomy has a lot of untapped potential to contribute to the ambitions of the EU Green Deal. The European Commission’s assessment of the 2018 bioeconomy strategy provides an opportunity to unleash this potential. For the EU to become a frontrunner in this sector and further capitalise on successes achieved by the strategy so far, the chemical industry calls for more certainty, visibility, consistency, and better policy coordination. This is the main message of Cefic’s recently launched position paper “Reviewing the European Bioeconomy Strategy – Enablers, lessons and 10 recommendations”.
A sustainable bioeconomy can accelerate the transition to a circular economy and transform Europe’s industry. Renewable resources of biological origin offer the chemicals industry an opportunity to diversify its feedstocks to produce bio-based products. Bio-based feedstocks can have an impact in the production of bio-based plastics and chemical building blocks, which can be used in a broad range of products, such as, plastics, paints, adhesives, lubricants, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, detergents, cleaning products, etc.
To scale-up bio-based products in general, and bio-based and bio-derived chemicals and polymers in particular, the European chemical industry intends to enhance the sustainable and efficient use of increased biomass, bio-waste and bio-residues volumes to produce bio-based and bio-derived chemicals fitting within the circular economy, and promote further recycling of all chemicals and materials, among other initiatives.
For the bioeconomy to fully deploy its benefits for society, existing challenges related to the business case, have to be overcome. Cefic calls on policymakers to consider in the current review of the Strategy and in future decision-making the enabling role of bio-based and bio-derived chemicals for the successful implementation of several EU policy initiatives, such as the Safe and Sustainable-by-Design (SSbD) approach as part of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS). It is important to have an objective and science-based evaluation and recognition of the economic, environmental and social impacts of the bioeconomy and bio-based products. An improved access to sustainable biomass at fair economic and technical conditions is also critical for all market players while fully respecting the planet’s boundaries.
Europe needs enabling regulations to valorise residues and wastes from bio-based products production, so it is necessary to adapt and clarify the end-of-waste legislation and definitions accordingly. We also need increased funding and financing streams for bio-based research & innovation projects as well as close to market and production projects such as under Horizon Europe, Public Private Partnerships or the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund, and more awareness campaigns to help lifting misunderstandings around bio-based products and their benefits.
The full list of recommendations, as well as lessons learned since the release of the first EU Bioeconomy Strategy in 2012, are shared in Cefic’s latest position paper.