“There is a lack of integration of bioeconomy concepts and priorities within the EU regulatory framework,” EUBP said. It pointed out that there is ‘high-level political support’ for the bioeconomy, for example through the Commission’s announcement that at least 20% carbon used in chemical and plastic products will come from sustainable non-fossil sources by 2030. On the other hand, it said current EU legislation is hampering investment in the sector, for example through the Single Use Plastics Directive and the PPWR. The PPWR does not currently include bioplastics in the targets for recycled content, a decision that EUBP has criticised as sending ‘mixed signals’ to the sector.
Incentivizing access to sustainable biomass
“The EU needs to strike a balance between bioenergy and biobased sustainable products,” EUBP urged. This was also a key topic during the 2023 EUBP conference. At present, there are only legally binding targets for biomass use in energy, which imbalances the scales against material use in bioplastics, panellist argued. “Costs of feedstock are often higher in Europe because EU Member States have higher operational costs, and an increase in the demand pushes up the price,” the EUBP policy manifesto says. “This is why we, indeed, believe that the EU legislator needs to fix a “prioritisation” for the use of biomass and balance between bioenergy and biobased products.”
Enhancing financial support for technological innovation
The EU should increase funding and financing streams for research and innovation projects as well as close-to-market and production projects such as the Horizon Europe Programme and its Public Private Partnerships, the Innovation Fund, the Digital Europe programme, the Structural Funds, INTERRE, or the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund.
Closing infrastructure gaps and incentivising access to food waste collection
“Achieving a circular economy for bioplastics requires robust mechanical, chemical, and organic recycling infrastructure, as well as having access to this infrastructure. The EU should invest more in infrastructures for the collection, sorting, and recycling of food waste, to support the growth of the bioplastics industry.”
Increasing market uptake
The EUBP said market incentives such as the ones recently introduced in the US to replace 90% of plastics with biomaterials by 2050 are ‘sorely needed in Europe to keep up the return on public and private investment from being harvested elsewhere’.
Increasing consumer awareness
“Many consumers remain unaware of the actual environmental benefits of biobased or compostable alternatives. The EU should increase consumer awareness of the benefits of bioplastics to help drive the demand,” EUBP said in its last point.
“Bioplastics have the potential to play a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of plastics”, said Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of EUBP. “However, the industry needs a clear and supportive policy framework to reach its full potential,” he concluded.