Bio-based solutions for a future-fit Europe – How can the bio-based sector contribute to EU Green Deal and to a zero-waste-europe?

The EU Green Deal entails significant changes in the different sectors involved in the final goal of the fight against climate change.

The biobased sector is one of those fields heavily influenced by the new political decisions which the European Union is heading towards. As a result of these changes, on February the 12th 2020, the Bio-based Industries Consortium organised the Bio-based solutions for a future-fit Europe meeting in Brussels. This conference gathered different stakeholders of the biobased sector to discuss and coordinated the future of the sector.

EUBIA participated with interest in this meeting full of stimulating ideas.

Dirk Carrez, Executive Director of the Bio-based Consortium, welcomed the audience by highlighting the importance of the bio-based sector within the Eu Green Deal. His statement was reinforced by Maya Doneva, Managing Director at FTI Consulting, who pointed out the mainopportunities the biobased sector finds within the green deal.First of all, as regards the circular economy, the green agreement aims to boost the use of bioplastics and therefore replace fossil-based materials with bio-based materials. In the framework of food and agriculture, the aim is to promote the consumption of sustainable food and reduce the use of fertilizers. As far as in the transport sector, the goal is to encourage mobility that uses alternative methods to fossil fuel.
Given that the biobased sector must move towards Sustainable Development Goals, Catherine Bowyer, Senior Policy Analyst at IEEP (Institute for European Environmental Policy) underlined how important it is to identify an assessment tool for evaluating bio-based solutions projects. This is the work that IEEP does, which provides a methodology to guide project developers in assessing both the positive and negative consequences of future bio-based projects towards the SDGs.

For the first panel discussion, some of the speakers gathered on the stage. This first discussion tries to answer in which way the bio-based sector could contribute to the SDGs and the European Green Deal.
Pavel Misiga, Head of Unit – Circular Economy & Biobased Systems DG RTD, speaking in behalf of the Eu Commission, asserted “the EU Commission want to help the sector, to evolve and to bring new technology to the market” in the challenge against the global climate change.
Fabio Sagnelli, Program Manager at Novamont, followed up the biobased sector importance underling how it gives “opportunity to reconsider products and redesign products, by taking into account and incorporate the end of life into the way we design the products”.
The panellists tried to identify the priorities in this sector in order to achieve the SDGs and Green Deal objectives. In this regard, Sagnelli stressed the priority importance of seeking and developing a dialogue with politicians. But at the same time, it is important for individual industries to seek more and more stakeholders with whom to collaborate and develop new ideas. Jarle Wikeby, Senior Project Director of Borregaard, underlined how it is necessary to pay attention to the competitiveness policy of bio-based products. In this regard, Misiga pointed out how important it is to create an enabling political framework and provide investments in biobased projects.

In the second panel, focused on the role of the bio-based sector for the zero-waste Europe, discussion was opened by Enzo Favoino speech, Chair of the Scientific Committee at Zero Waste Europe.
According to surveys and analysis, Favoino affirmes “Food waste is still a largely untapped potential.” It is true that there are many regulatory drivers for this sector, coming in particular from the circular economy package and the new Waste Firework Directive (WFD). But “more drivers are coming from other policies, as biowaste has been seen as an important contribution to tackle global warm, and also as a strategy against desertification”. This, in consequence, boost interest in the bio-waste sector. But “It is necessary to increase the efficiency of the existing systems. This means, we have to enlarge separate collection food waste all over EU”.
A topic fervently discussed among the panellists was the big challenge ahead to maximise the biobased sector’s contribution to meeting the zero-waste Europe goal. According also to the attendees, a critical importance has the customers awareness in adopting zero-waste processes. High importance has also the technology and the efficiency of the providing infrastructure required to collect and process waste. You should find a compromise between them, since Mindaugas Maciulevičius, rapporteur of EU Bioeconomy Strategy at EESC (European Economic & Social Committee), said “Infrastructures is missing, and we need to start from them, and the consumers will come back as consequence”. This point of view was also supported by Favoino who stressed how, for this reason, it is necessary to disseminate good practices, which already existed across Europe.
In this regard, Marcello Somma, head of R&D and Business Development at Fater, reported how “Food has a huge opportunity, but if you don’t create end of waste  regulatory infrastructure for the materials that you want to create out of food waste, then there is no circular bioeconomy. If a waste doesn’t stop to be your waste, there is no circular economy”.
But we must not underestimate the role that consumers play. Antonio Bisignano, head of logistic and contract management at AMSA, underlined how it is necessary to design consumers behaviours by setting an effective control system on them, for example through a fine system in case of non-observance of separate collection rules.

The event was also the opportunity to present and disseminate the BIC’s new digital platform to stimulate bio-based investment in regions. Within this platform, regions and industry meet each other in order to share interests and fill the gap between bio-based investment opportunities and financial incentives at regional level. Find more info about the platform here.