Sustainability schemes for the bio-based economy
Sustainability assessments are major factors not only for consumer acceptance but also for developing an efficient and meaningful policy framework for bio-based products. While there is already a framework in place for the sustainability assessment of biomass and biofuels, there are only incipient initiatives for bio-based products. Objective and quality life cycle assessments based on robust and agreed methods are important to clarify the environmental impact/benefits of bio-based products and to benchmark their environmental performance with alternative non-bio-based products on the market.
The proposals will develop sustainability schemes for bio-based products building on (1) existing schemes for biomass and bioenergy, including biofuels, (2) the work of (CEN-TC411) on standards for ‘Bio-based Products – Sustainability Criteria’ and ‘Bio-based Products – Life Cycle Assessment' which should incorporate end of life, (3) previous work on bio-based products LCA methods for bio-based products. Aspects that could be considered include: building-in economic and social factors; thresholds for different sustainability criteria/indicators; certification schemes and use of standards; life cycle assessment of bio-based products; (eco)labelling; aspects of the circular economy, resource efficiency and the principle of cascade use considering existing criteria for bioenergy product sustainability; the development of ILUC factors for bio-based products taking into account existing approaches to ILUC for bioenergy. The applicability and efficiency of the proposed sustainability schemes and criteria/indicators in the current regulatory framework; the balance between costs and complexity of the sustainability assessment; and the market pull the specific proposed measures will represent, should be presented as credible cases in the proposal. In this context applicants may decide to focus making the case for specific segment/groups of bio-based products, which should be of course justified.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
To contribute to the implementation of the objectives of relevant European policy initiatives, including the Lead Market Initiative in Bio-based Products, the Industrial Policy with its instruments such as the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, the Environmental Technology Action Plan and the Bioeconomy Strategy, proposals will have to:
- Contribute to the development of efficient, implementable and fit-for-purpose sustainability schemes and criteria and indicators;
- Ensure market pull for bio-based products through (i) wider use of bio-based standards and certification schemes and (ii) the expansion of bio-based products accessing sustainability schemes, e.g. (eco)labelling;
- Develop objective and quality life cycle assessments based on robust and agreed methods, allowing benchmarking, accepted and applicable in regulatory and policy frameworks.