The enzymes produced through industrial biotech transform ‘renewable raw materials’ such as biomass, agricultural & forestry residues, municipal waste and CO2 in biorefineries into everyday products. This creates a renewable carbon cycle, taking CO2 from the air and converting it via plants into sustainable products, as an alternative to using finite fossil carbon, like crude oil, natural gas or coal as the basic feedstock.
'Industrial biotech can help deliver on these goals'
“Sustainable jobs and growth and resource efficient, renewable products and processes are exactly what the EU needs right now,” said Stephan Tanda, of Royal DSM and chairman, EuropaBio Industrial Biotech Council.
“Industrial biotech can help deliver on these goals, contributing towards a circular economy; however this cannot be achieved without the right long-term framework conditions in place to attract the business investment needed.”
EuropaBio members call on the Commission for the prioritisation of biotech solutions for a circular economy in Horizon 2020 and for the promotion of agricultural productivity and efficiency.
This includes the ‘locally grown and sourced concept’ and the need to fund European schemes for the collection, harvesting, storage and transport of renewable raw materials.
EuropaBio encourages the Commission to take its 2012 Bio-economy strategy into consideration in the development of the circular economy action plan and to consider reviewing and revising this.
Furthermore, to adopt a holistic approach, it will be necessary to coordinate the production of biobased products with waste management, adopting appropriate political measures to ensure a sustainable transition from a linear towards a circular economic model.
According to Nathalie Moll, secretary general, EuropaBio, industrial biotech is trying to emerge into a marketplace where the fossil carbon industry still receives an estimated $200bn in subsidies per year globally, often with no need to demonstrate or foot the bill for ensuring product sustainability.
“An EU circular economy strategy only makes sense in the context of a serious reality check of this situation and of the need to put in place long-term support and measures to enable the EU’s better performers to flourish,” she said.
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) believes the Commission is right in recognising recyclability as waste prevention and in harmonising the method for the calculation of recycling rates to make data more comparable and reliable.
Marco Mensink, director general, CEPI, said the European paper industry and its partners in the paper value chain, is about to publish its European Declaration on Paper Recycling committing to a further increase in paper recycling from today’s already high 71,7% paper recycling rate.
“It is great to see the Commission recognises the need for separate collection of paper, providing good quality raw materials,” he said.
“We also appreciate that further limits to landfilling are being put in place.”
Mensink added the Circular Economy package has ‘correctly identified the synergies needed to find real solutions’.
“The package has reached a level of ambition rarely seen in policymaking,” he said.
“By recognising the contribution of biomass and bio-based products to the Circular Economy the European Commission now takes into account that circularity in many cases starts with raw materials from renewable sources.
“CEPI is looking forward to concrete actions in the field of bio-based product in the future.”
EUROPEN claims it supports an EU policy framework that drives the right investments for all packaging value chains and sectors towards a resource efficient and competitive Circular Economy in a strong EU Internal Market.
Virginia Janssens, managing director, EUROPEN, said the organisation will now assess the implications of some of the proposed wording related to producers’ financial contributions to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes.
“We welcome the proposal’s intention to improve the transparency of and rule enforcement for existing EPR schemes, as well as the accountability of different actors in EPR implementation,” she added.
According to Martin Reynolds, chairman, EUROPEN, the packaging supply chain has demonstrated considerable progress over the last 20 years towards efficient use of resources of packaged goods along their value chains, whilst preserving and extending the value of products and materials in the economy.
“Being able to take advantage of the scale of the EU Internal Market has been crucial to unlocking the packaging supply chain’s investment in resource efficient innovations,” he said.
“We strongly support the retention of the Internal Market safeguard, which remains vital to achieving a competitive and resource efficient Circular Economy for our industry.”
Read Circular Economy: Part I - What does the future hold now? here.