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European Bioplastics establishes action plan to boost EU biopolymer uptake

#European Bioplastics establishes action plan to boost EU biopolymer uptake

29 Jan 2024 — European Bioplastics (EUBP) is calling on the EU to develop a comprehensive “Biopolymers Industrial Action Plan” to accelerate the growth of the European bioplastics industry.

By 2025, at least 55% of all plastic packaging in the EU should be recycled. If greater levels of high-quality recycling are to be reached, design issues must be addressed “far more systematically,” Roberto Ferrigno, the head of EU Affairs at EUBP, tells Packaging Insights.

“If a 55% share of recycled and bio-based plastics is achieved in Europe by 2030, 80 megatons of CO2 emissions per year will be avoided, and the use of fossil plastics will decrease by 28 megatons.”

Biopolymers Industrial Action Plan
In its policy manifesto, EUBP writes that an actionable EU Bioeconomy Strategy, supporting a strong biopolymers industrial base, should be among the most important elements of the next EU policy cycle. EUBP calls on the future European Commission and co-legislators to develop a Biopolymers Industrial Action Plan, prioritizing the following six key points:

  1. Harmonizing regulations: There is a lack of integration of bioeconomy concepts and priorities within the existing EU regulatory framework despite high-level political support for the bioeconomy. The EU should harmonize regulations to create a fair level playing field for bioplastics.
  2. Incentivizing access to sustainable biomass: The EU must balance bioenergy and bio-based sustainable products.
  3. Enhancing financial support for technological innovation: Scaling up bioplastics manufacturing processes to meet commercial demands can be technically challenging and will require a favorable financial environment for innovation to be able to grow at scale.
  4. Closing infrastructure gaps and incentivizing access to food waste collection. The EU should invest more in infrastructures for collecting, sorting and recycling food waste, to support the growth of the bioplastics industry.
  5. Increasing market uptake: Market incentives are needed in Europe to keep the return on public and private investment from being harvested elsewhere. The EU should set up a fair level playing field for biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics.
  6. 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.

Headshot of a man. Roberto Ferrigno, the head of EU Affairs at EUBP.Financial challenges
In the EU, there is an incentive for using biomass for fuels and for energy, but not for bio-based plastics, explains Ferrigno.

“In policy terms, the use of biomass as a material is preferable. As these options are largely based on the same bio-based raw materials and residues, the mandatory use of bio-based plastics in packaging (a sector that represents 40% of the plastic consumption in the EU) could balance this out.”

“In the current policy field, it is unlikely that bio-based plastics will grow strongly without some form of mandatory requirement or subsidy,” he says.

The manifesto is reportedly supported by various stakeholders, including bioplastics producers, converters and end-users.

“We are calling on the EU to seize this opportunity to create a thriving bioplastics industry that will benefit the environment and the economy,” concludes Ferrigno.

By Natalie Schwertheim

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