On 9 April 2013, the EU funded research project on bio-based product standards, KBBPPS, held a workshop in Cologne, Germany. The goal was to inform stakeholders about the project’s objectives and initial activities and to consult the seven partners about the 2½ years of research that lie ahead. The meeting was a success, with lively discussion among the 40 participants. There was valuable and immensely useful input from American and Thai experts, and everyone agreed to coordinate the development of test methods and to also feed the project results into ASTM and international standards.
The workshop was attended by bioplastic and biochemical producers, biomaterial suppliers, local government representatives and testing agencies. The advisory workshop’s morning session started with an introduction to 14C-analysis. This is the basis for the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Biopreferred Program. It is used by many bio-based product certification systems, including European ones. The participants discussed ideas for improving the sample preparation for this analysis, especially where composites, complex products such as tyres or gaseous products are concerned. Since European industry is concerned about presenting the total biomass content – which cannot generally be declared on the basis of bio-carbon content alone – the workshop also addressed many indirect and mass balance techniques. The experiences shared by many participants provided some good indications for future research.
The complexity of biodegradation testing was a hotly debated topic during the afternoon session. The first KBBPPS deliverable – a report on current relevant biodegradation and ecotoxicity standards – formed the basis for this discussion. The links between this and defining the ability of a product to be composted or digested by bacteria in a biogas reactor were also discussed. Several participants offered to collaborate on this research and/or provide products.
Another project outcome was then presented – an indicative list of 26 product categories that balance market needs and research challenges and will form the basis of the KBBPPS research programme. All participants agreed that this list was a good way of categorizing the large number of bio-based products and the work was greatly appreciated. There were a few comments, but the list was welcomed as a good foundation for further research into methods for testing bio-based products. This is the project’s next successful deliverable.
The KBBPPS (Knowledge Based Bio-based Products’ Pre-Standardization) project is conducting pre- and co-normative research under the FP7 EU research programme. During the workshop, speakers from the US and EU expressed their willingness to cooperate to achieve a common understanding of 14C analysis as standardized by ASTM. The KBBPPS results on biomass content and biodegradability will also be presented to US stakeholders for further deliberation. At the workshop, Ohio State University offered to arrange webinars so that researchers can exchange information. The KBBPPS project would also coordinate research with the umbrella European Standardization Committee, CEN.
The European bio-economy is currently a top priority, and research-based standardisation and market analysis, which are also part of the KBBPPS project, are the biggest issues for demand-pull policy. Many participants considered the KBBPPS project a crucial factor in identifying bio-based products for market-support measures. Such measures were put forward by the earlier EU Lead Market Initiative and are now being followed up on by the new EU Expert Group on bio-based products within DG Enterprise. All of this shows that the first advisory workshop has added some momentum to EU policy measures, transatlantic exchange, and cooperation between researchers and industry, and offers decent prospects for harmonised global standards.
The KBBPPS project has received funding from the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme on Research and Technological Development. For more information, check out our project website: www.kbbpps.eu or contact the project manager, O. Costenoble at NEN Energy Resources via firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: +31-152690326.
About Michael Carus and nova-Institute GmbH
Michael Carus is Managing Director of nova-Institute in Hürth near Cologne (Germany), which has been working on the field of the “Bio-based Economy” since 1994. Along with market surveys and raw material studies, the Institute’s core strengths lie in the areas of life-cycle analysis, policy advice and B2B communication including conferences.
As dissemination partner within this project, the nova-Institute is in charge of organising the advisory workshops that collect input from industry experts and other stakeholders. A major objective will be the outreach to international standardisation bodies as well as a successful communication of the project results to CEN. In another capacity, the nova-Institute will support the selection of the most important bio-based intermediates and products for the methodology measurement and validation and identify the main market entry barriers that exist in regulations, codes, standards and supply chains.
Source: nova-Institute, press release, 2013-04-24.