Welcoming the European Parliament’s circular economy report
EuropaBio’s cascading caveat.
Brussels, 10 July 2015 – EuropaBio keenly welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of the own-initiative report of Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen on „Resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy”, yet cautions against the application of the cascading principle transversally and indiscriminately across the bioeconomy.
EuropaBio is encouraged to read in the report the call for a “long-term and predictable policy framework” for investment and market development in green technologies and sustainable business, as well as for public procurement rules prioritizing sustainable and resource-efficient products and solutions. Biobased products are premier examples of the latter, and EuropaBio calls on the European Commission to establish specific public procurement measures for them. This could help replicate in Europe the success of the US BioPreferred Programme which contributed $369 Billion and 4 Million jobs to the US economy in 2013.
Another positive from the report is the call to increase the use of environmentally friendly packaging including biobased and biodegradable. On this point, EuropaBio’s Director for Industrial Biotechnology Joanna Dupont noted that “Biobased products are derived from renewable materials, and therefore ideally placed to lead the transition towards a more sustainable circular bioeconomy, maximising resource efficiency.”
Nevertheless, the report’s call for the implementation of a cascading use of resources, notably in the use of biomass, is problematic. Whilst it may be relevant for some parts of the bioeconomy, the latter is too complex and diverse to apply such a principle transversally and indiscriminately. Biomass is a valuable resource and many parameters need to be taken into account when assessing its use and the products made from it. As EuropaBio’s Chair of the Industrial Biotechnology Council Stephan Tanda argues, “the smart and efficient use of biomass should be the guiding principle and every biomass fraction should be valorised for food, feed, bio-based products and energy. The perfect example of doing this is through biorefineries*. They are the best and most efficient method to extract the maximum value from biomass and will play an important role in the transition towards the ‘zero waste’ economy.”