By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
According to a January 24, 2023, item published by the U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA), the demand for new bioplastic materials and innovative processing technologies is high, contributing to the European and Italian plastics circular economy policy. According to ITA, European demand for bioplastics (compostable, bio-attributed, and bio-based) grew more than 23 percent annually from 2019 to 2021, increasing from 210,000 to 320,000 tons. ITA states that significant investments for biorefineries and to achieve stakeholders’ other development objectives should lead to production of another 100 kilotons of totally and/or partially renewable polymers by 2030 in Europe. In Italy, in 2021, the biodegradable and compostable plastics industry was made up of 275 companies (five chemical producers, 20 granule producers and distributors, and 250 processors) with 2,895 employees and €1 billion in revenue. ITA states that the volume of bioplastics produced in 2020 increased 13.2 percent, compared to the previous year.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The European Parliament (EP) voted on September 14, 2022, to increase the share of renewables in the European Union’s (EU) final energy consumption to 45 percent by 2030, under the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), a target also backed by the European Commission (EC) under its “RepowerEU” package. According to the EP’s September 14, 2022, press release, the legislation also defines subtargets for sectors such as transport, buildings, and district heating and cooling. The press release states that in the transport sector, deploying renewables should lead to a 16 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, through the use of higher shares of advanced biofuels and a more ambitious quota for renewable fuels of non-biological origin, such as hydrogen. Industry should boost its use of renewables by 1.9 percentage points per year, and district heating networks by 2.3 points. The text was adopted by a vote of 418 to 109, with 111 abstentions.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 12, 2021, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT), the European Commission (EC) Helpdesk will host a webinar on appropriate Intellectual Property (IP) rights for biotechnology inventions. The 60-minute webinar will provide an overview of:
- Relevant IP rights;
- Product development IP context;
- IP specifics in biotechnology;
- IP portfolio development; and
- IP portfolio management.
The webinar is free of charge, but registration is required. Additional information is available here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On October 11, 2018, the European Commission (EC) released a statement announcing its new action plan for a sustainable bioeconomy in Europe. The new action plan, originally announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent, aims to “improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable sources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.” In his remarks, EC Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, emphasized the need for systemic changes as key drivers of change for the bioeconomy sector. Renewable and sustainable solutions depend on collaborative efforts by governments and industry stakeholders. Based on this premise, EC’s new strategy focuses on three key objectives that include 14 measures to be taken as early as 2019. The three objectives are to:
- Scale up and strengthen the biobased sectors;
- Rapidly deploy bioeconomies across Europe; and
- Protect the ecosystem and understand the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy.
These long- and short-term objectives focus on modernizing the European biobased economy and call for systemic changes that will reduce the large underused biomass and waste potential. The action plan will be further discussed and outlined during a conference with stakeholders, hosted by the EC on October 22, 2018, in Brussels.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On April 3, 2017, the European Environment Agency (EEA) announced the publication of the report titled “Renewable Energy in Europe 2017: Recent Growth and Knock-On Effects,” which demonstrates that renewables have been a major contributor to the energy transition in Europe. An analysis of the compound annual growth rate demonstrated that the use of biofuels in transport grew fastest between 2005 and 2014 at 18 percent per year. Renewables provided six percent of the energy used for the European Union’s (EU) transportation sector in 2014, with biofuels accounting for nearly 90 percent of renewable energy. According to the report, a plateau in first-generation biofuel capacity and delays in overcoming technical and financial obstacles related to second-generation biofuel technologies resulted in fewer investments in biofuels in 2015, compared to 2005. The report also stated that electricity from solid biomass increased seven percent from 2005 to 2014, but the implementation of sustainability criteria could influence future growth in solid biomass fuel. The full report is available on the EEA website.
On September 5, 2016, a group of non-profits, including Oxfam International, Fern, and Greenpeace, published a report outlining policy measures that should be taken by the European Commission (EC) to ensure that bioenergy is as low-carbon and resource efficient as possible. The report, "A New EU Sustainable Bioenergy Policy Report," was published after EC stated a willingness to listen to new proposals to improve sustainable bioenergy policies. EC is planning on proposing an updated bioenergy sustainability policy for the use of biomass in heating, electricity, and transport by the end of 2016, as part of the Climate and Energy Package for 2030. To ensure the sustainability of new bioenergy policies, the report discusses the need and practicality of implementing the following safeguards:
- A limit to the use of biomass for energy production to levels that can be sustainably supplied;
- An efficient and optimal use of biomass resources, in line with the principle of cascading use;
- Robust and verifiable emission savings on the basis of correct carbon accounting for bioenergy emissions; and
- A comprehensive, binding set of environmental and social sustainability criteria.
This report proposed sustainability criteria across all energy uses of biomass that has been grown on land, as well as residues, waste, and side-products, but not for biomass from aquaculture and marine areas.
During a summit in Brussels on October 23-24, 2014, European Union (EU) leaders agreed to a blueprint to guide climate and energy policy through 2030. The overall goals of the blueprint are to achieve a 40 percent emissions reduction by 2030, relative to 1990 emissions levels, as well as a target of 27 percent for total energy consumption in the EU being provided by renewable sources by 2030. The EU already has a 20 percent emissions reduction target for 2020. The target is expected to help build and maintain momentum for the larger 2030 emissions goal. Individual countries will not be responsible for the 27 percent renewable energy goal, rather, the EU as a whole wants to reach that level of renewable energy. In order to assist countries in achieving this goal, the EU is increasing the current 300 million Emissions Trading System (ETS) allowances to 400 million to help fund low-carbon innovation. More information about the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework can be found in the EU's post-summit communique.
In a July 9, 2014, press release, the European Union (EU) announced the launch of seven public-private partnerships, established under the EU's new research funding program Horizon 2020. They represent a total investment of € 19.5 billion into research and innovation over the next seven years, where the EU contribution of € 7.3 billion will unlock a € 12.2 billion investment from the private sector and the Member States. The press release is available online.
These partnerships work in a number of fields crucial for Europe's economic growth, creation of jobs, industrial competitiveness, and well-being of citizens, one of which is a partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). The priorities of this new € 3.7 billion public-private partnership, the Bio-based Industries (BBI) program, include doubling of the share of biobased chemicals produced in Europe (from 10 percent to 20 percent); an increase of biomass mobilization by 10 percent as well as a reduction of imports of protein for feed by 15 percent and fertilizer components used for feedstock production by 10 percent; and meeting of the 15 percent target increase in waste and byproduct utilization by 2020.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, stated: "The bioeconomy has huge potential that is attracting investments all around the world. With this new partnership, we want to harness innovative technologies to convert Europe's untapped renewable resources and waste into greener everyday products such as food, feed, chemicals, materials and fuels, all sourced and made in Europe."
Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes, stated: "The BBI 2014 Call for Proposals is a first step in a long-term strategy that will deliver tangible social, economic and environmental results. It is the outcome of a year-long effort involving the European Commission and the industry following an extensive consultation of experts and stakeholders. It is a visionary call that lays the foundation for an increasingly ambitious and successful initiative." More details on BIC are available online.