Welcome to the seventh RoadToBio newsletter. Our roadmap for increasing the bio-based portfolio and improving the sustainability of the European chemical industry continues to shape up.
In our third newsletter, published in January 2018, we introduced you to an important aspect for the development of our roadmap: opportunities, barriers and hurdles concerning the acceptance of bio-based products. In that issue we presented the results and findings of our study analysing the perception of consumers. In this newsletter we will build on those findings and tell you more about the perception of societal stakeholders. We will present the highlights of our report on the qualitative analysis of stakeholders’ concerns regarding the development of bio-based products.
Do you want to be part of this process and give your input to the Roadmap? Then join the next stakeholder workshop on 19 June 2018 in Brussels or register for our next webinar “Bio-based sweet spots for the chemical industry – A conclusion and discussion after the second stakeholder workshop” on 11 July at 13.00 CET.
Best wishes/ Kind regards
John Vos & Swinda Pfau
BTG Biomass Technology Group
On behalf of the RoadToBio consortium
Please consider – if not done already – to subscribe to the RoadToBio newsletter.
In November 2017 we issued our report D2.2 Public perception of bio-based products which, based on a literature review about consumer perception of bio-based products, identified barriers for further market development and how to approach them.
To broaden our initial understanding we interviewed a range of societal stakeholders, including staff from 11 NGOs and 8 policy makers from various countries, to understand their attitudes and concerns. These interviews yielded relevant additional insights on issues and opportunities and helped fine-tuning approaches described in D2.2. The results and findings are described in report D2.3 Public perception of bio-based product – qualitative analysis of stakeholders’ concerns.
Development of new products is driven primarily by the markets
A new bio-based product can be sold only if there is a strong market demand for it. Furthermore the survey results show that a new bio-based product has to have improved functionalities compared to its fossil counterpart, which is why innovation and new functionalities has been ranked high on the priority list of key drivers. Sustainability, low environmental impact, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the share of non-fossil carbon atoms in the product were also identified as important drivers when developing a new product. Production costs, feedstock availability and legislation, although ranking lower on the priority list of key drivers, are still important considerations for the industry when introducing a new product.
NGO views and concerns
In our interviews with representatives of NGOs we discussed opportunities, concerns and pre-requisites for the further development of bio-based products and a bioeconomy. The three most striking points made by the NGOs were the following:
- NGOs are concerned that replacing the feedstock base of products, converting from fossil to biomass resources, would serve as an “excuse” to keep consuming just as much as before and transfer a green image which does not hold up (e. g. biodegradability, land use issues)
- NGOs agree that bio-based products should have additional benefits, other than the change to a renewable resource base, like e.g. an improved environmental impact, better performance or reduced toxicity
- NGOs find it important that bio-based products integrate well with the circular economy
Views and opinions of policy makers
With government policy makers of different levels (European, national and regional) we discussed the importance of public perception, our previous research findings as well as opportunities and concerns regarding bio-based products.
- Policy makers agreed that public perception is very important for policy making. It can point out the areas that require attention, such as confusion over waste treatment options for bio-based products
- Policy makers experience a discrepancy in the perception of bio-based products by experts and the broader public. The broader public has a lot less knowledge and experts are believed to have a more positive, but also more differentiated view of bio-based products.
- Policy makers think that consumers should not be burdened with the expectation of being sufficiently informed about bio-based products to make informed decisions
- Policy makers did not fully agree with some of the concerns described by NGOs. They experienced some of the positions as overly critical, hindering useful developments towards more sustainable products.
- Policy makers described some of the issues that NGOs pointed out as pre-requisites as opportunities. For example, they argued that creating added value can be used for communication and marketing strategies by bio-based producers
From this study, several conclusions can be drawn, including the following:
- Communication should not only focus on the fact that a product is bio-based, but highlight personal benefits, added values (like improved performance) and positive impacts
- Consumers don’t understand the consequences of bio-based products/ economy. Consumers should therefore not be burdened with the task of making the right decisions, both in choosing and disposing of bio-based products. Policy making and communication should instead focus on making it easy for society to move in the right direction
- Determination of environmental impacts of bio-based products is a debated issue: desired by consumers and NGOs, but not realistic for many producers
- To integrate bio-based products in a circular economy, producers of bio-based products could collaborate with the waste treatment sectors and policy makers to develop improved waste strategies
Are you interested in the full report? You can download it here.
Invitation to the next stakeholder workshop
Whether you are an industrialist, a NGO, a government policy maker or another stakeholder, your engagement is important to us. With your knowledge and contribution, it is possible to create a strong roadmap with a high impact and containing clear, realistic goals.
Join us on the journey to a more bio-based chemical industry and participate in our stakeholder workshops and webinars. Our next stakeholder workshop is scheduled to be held on 19 June 2018 afternoon in Brussels. See here the full agenda of the workshop. The workshop is free of charge.
Through your participation in our stakeholder dialogue process you get the opportunity to help shape the development process and help steer the content of the roadmap.
Make a reservation for this date and contact us at [email protected]
What you can expect from the next newsletter
In the next newsletter we want to share with you results from our analysis of regulatory barriers for the bio-based materials sector.
It is one key objective of the RoadToBio project to achieve an overview of the existing regulatory barriers that hinder the production and market uptake of bio-based chemicals and materials in order to derive suggestions for overcoming these barriers.
For this task, we compiled existing knowledge from current and previous studies and projects. Based on this, a number of directives and regulations were identified that cause regulatory barriers for the bio-based chemical and material sector in the EU. In order to derive strategic approaches how to overcome these barriers, the report brings these findings up to date and also considers contextual frameworks why the specific legislation came to be. For each of the identified legislations, the findings are summarized in so-called factsheets. The results are reported in the recently published D2.1 “Report on regulatory barriers”, highlights will be published in the June 2018 newsletter.
Join the network
We would like to invite you to join us on the journey to a more bio-based chemical industry. The roadmap should contain clear, realistic goals. Your knowledge and experience is necessary to create a market relevant roadmap with a high impact. Therefore, we will conduct workshops and webinars to involve you as stakeholder.
Your opinion is of utmost importance to us. Through your participation, you get the opportunity to help shape the development process and to find your opinion later in the roadmap.
Introduction of the RoadToBio Team
The consortium of this two-year project, which started in May 2017, consists of four members:
- DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V.,
- BTG Biomass Technology Group BV,
- E4tech (UK) Ltd.,
- nova-Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation GmbH.
They bring in complementary expertise in relevant fields of the bioeconomy and chemical industry, covering in depth all aspects that need to be included in the roadmap.
This project has received funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 745623.