EUBP: “Reviewed EU bioeconomy strategy strengthens defossilization of plastics sector”

EUBP: “Reviewed EU bioeconomy strategy strengthens defossilization of plastics sector”

18 Oct 2018 --- European Bioplastics (EUBP) has expressed its support for The European Commission’s recently delivered review of the 2012 European Bioeconomy Strategy. The strategy is a step forward towards ensuring that fossil resources are replaced by sustainable natural alternatives for the production of bio-based products such as bio-based plastics and energy, says EUBP. “Only by driving the transition in relevant markets will it be possible to reach Europe’s climate change mitigation goals,” says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director at EUBP. “Implementation of the key actions of the updated Bioeconomy Strategy is paramount to making this happen.”

The strategy focuses on the importance of a stable regulatory framework as well as on research and innovation to accelerate the growth of the bioeconomy, which is already worth around €2.1 trillion (US$2.4 trillion) in annual turnover in Europe. Specifically, the bioplastics industry not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also contributes to employment growth in Europe and to the development of rural areas, EUBP highlights. “The bioplastics industry is a main driver of the bioeconomy,” von Pogrell says. “According to a study of EuropaBio, it accounts for about 23,000 jobs in Europe. With suitable investment and regulatory frameworks, this number could increase by 2030 with up to 300,000 high skilled jobs.”

Click to Enlarge
Source: EUBP

European Bioplastics welcomes the Commission’s support for using bio-based feedstock for the production of plastics. Furthermore, the strategy underlines that bio-based plastics should be mechanically or organically recyclable and by this links the concepts of bioeconomy and circular economy.

The new document aims at fostering research into plastics which are biodegradable in the marine environment and refers to the currently debated draft directive on marine pollution and single-use plastics. “While marine biodegradability can be an interesting property, it is important to clearly define for which materials and applications and under which conditions it is meaningful. In the context of single-use plastic items, European Bioplastics considers soundly established land-based waste management as the key to fight marine pollution,” states von Pogrell.

As the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA) has already pointed out, the Bioeconomy Strategy should deliver the following five policy priorities in order to ensure Europe’s leadership in the sector: making the circular bioeconomy an integral part of EU‐level frameworks and policies; increasing funding and improving coherence of financing mechanisms for the circular bioeconomy; securing the Bio‐Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) 2.0; creating incentives for bio‐based products in strategic sectors; and promoting bio‐based products’ visibility to stimulate market demand.

Speaking to PackagingInsights in August, von Pogrell stressed his concerns that the EU does not provide bioplastics with an “equal platform to conventional plastics and biofuels.”

“We want a level playing field for bioplastics when competing for markets and raw materials,” said von Pogrell. “Currently, both the oil industry and the biofuels are greatly subsidized and, whereas we do not seek for subsidies ourselves, is it time for the EU to phase out those existing (oil) subsidies.”

Click to Enlarge
Source: EUBP

“To our mind, this new EU legislation on single-use plastics is being pushed through much too quickly and without considering all the possible alternatives,” said von Pogrell. “We all agree that we need to reduce the amount of single-use plastics, but we must also be aware that we are not going to be living in a world without it – food will still need to be wrapped and transported – so the question is what the most sustainable solution for that is. I think an outright ban without having actual solutions in place is difficult.”

“The Commission seems to be thinking about paper and cardboard as a sustainable solution, but I am not sure that this has been thought through,” says von Pogrell. “Many paper and cardboard packs are prone to contain potentially dangerous legacy elements from former recycling. Therefore, and for reasons of barrier properties, in many cases they need a layer of plastic, and that, of course, creates biodegradability issues. However, a bioplastic coating on a paper package is a good solution because it can create a 100 percent biodegradable package,” he added.

Read the full interview with von Pogrell here.

More recently, EUBP reported that The European Parliament’s (EP) report on the European Strategy for Plastics, adopted in September by the plenary, testifies to the increasing acknowledgment and endorsement of the value propositions of bioplastics.

By Joshua Poole

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

16 Jan 2019 --- Spanish supermarket chain Eroski has introduced a handful of own-brand products featuring Nutri-Score labeling. This makes Eroski the first distribution company in Spain to incorporate this “advanced nutrition” labeling. The Nutri-Score system classifies foods into five levels, indicated by colored letters – from “A” in dark green to “E” in dark orange. It is calculated on the basis of the calories, the nutrients which are beneficial for our health – fiber, protein, amount of fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses – and nutrients whose intake should be reduced – saturated fat, salt and sugar – per 100 grams of the product.
15 Jan 2019 --- The pan-European plastics sector will be the hardest hit in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, experts are warning. The UK Parliament will vote on UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU Brexit deal later today. MPs are widely expected to vote against the proposed deal, increasing the likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit. As the historic vote looms large, PackagingInsights asks what a “no-deal” Brexit could mean for the European packaging industry.
11 Jan 2019 --- In Part 1 of Packaging trends 2019, PackagingInsights explored the biggest driver in packaging today: sustainability. Sustainability is at the center of another major trend – the rise of e-commerce – which is set for a pivotal year, especially after Amazon announced that its Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) program will be enforced with financial penalties as of October 1, 2019, in five major EU countries and August 1, 2019, in the US and Canada. Part 2 explores this major trend in addition to another anticipated development in 2019: the continuing popularization of connective packaging technologies.
10 Jan 2019 --- Sustainable cannabis packaging manufacturer Sana Packaging has partnered with Oceanworks to supply a new line of cannabis packaging made from reclaimed ocean plastic. While hemp bioplastics will remain its core focus, the use of reclaimed ocean plastic is hoped to add a new dimension to the portfolio. As the regulatory environment surrounding cannabis use continues to soften, with the US’s recent legalization of hemp leading the way, the cannabis market is expected to become increasingly busy. This may present a host of opportunities for the packaging industry.
08 Jan 2019 --- Packaging trends in 2018 were dominated by sustainability action, largely fueled by rising anti-plastic sentiment. It was a year that saw widespread bans on single-use plastic items, the announcement of The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and the launch of the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisles in Amsterdam and London. At the same time, the milestone merger of two plastic giants in Amcor and Bemis suggests that there are still major players ready to invest in the future of the material. In the first of a two part report on packaging trends, PackagingInsights speaks to several industry experts about what to anticipate in 2019, starting with the most hotly contested trend: sustainability.