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Dutch Bioplastics Value Chain: Bio Plastics in Europe - A Tangible Example of the Potential of the Bio-Based Economy

Dutch Bioplastics Value Chain: Bio Plastics in Europe - A Tangible Example of the Potential of the Bio-Based Economy

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Published by: eoghan_walsh on May 30, 2011
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05/31/2011

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1
BioplasticsinEurope
ATangibleExampleofthePotentialoftheBio-basedEconomy
DenHaag,2May2011ToWhomItMayConcern,ThefollowingdocumentisasubmissiontotheEuropeanCommission’spublicconsultationonthe"bio-basedeconomyforEurope:stateofplayandfuturepotential"byPAEurope,inconsultationandcollaborationwithparticipantsintheDutchBioplasticsValueChain.TheEuropeanUnionhastakenanimportantsteptowardsusheringintheeraoflow-carbon,resourceefficient,sustainableandinclusiveeconomicgrowthinEuropewiththedecisiontoformulatea“EuropeanStrategyandActionPlanonthebio-basedeconomyby2020”.AstheEuropeanCommissionrightlyacknowledges,thebio-economyhasthepotentialtocontributenotonlytotackleglobalproblemssuchasclimatechange,CO2emissionsreductionandsustainableeconomicgrowth,butalsotofurtheringresearchandinnovationexcellenceinEurope,andmoresustainableagriculturalpolicieslinkedtoregionalandruraldevelopment.Withinthebio-basedeconomy,bioplasticshavethepotentialtodelivermanyoftheproposedbenefitsofthebio-economy.Bioplasticsmadefromrenewable(non-fossil)rawmaterialshavemultipleadvantages,suchasalowercarbonfootprintthantraditionalplasticsandreducingdependencyonfossilfuels.Bioplasticsareaninnovativetechnology,oneinwhichEuropehasawell-establishedpositiontobuilduponandtheinnovativematerialsbeingdevelopedcancontributetosignificantresourcereductionandrelianceonothersyntheticmaterials.TheproductionanduseofbioplasticsdirectlycontributestothereductionofCO2emissionsandthedependenceonacarbon-intensiveeconomy.ThedevelopmentandexpansionofthebioplasticsindustryinEurope,andtheinterconnectedshiftinagriculturetowardsthesupplyofrenewable(non-food)feedstocksforbiomass,cancontributetotheon-goingshiftofEuropeanagriculturalpolicytowardsmoresustainableandenvironmentallyfriendlyactivitiesandprovideexcellentnewbusinessandinnovationopportunitiesforEuropeanagriculture.ThiscontributesnotonlytoreducingtheenvironmentalimpactofEuropeanagriculture,butalsocanprovideaneconomicandemploymentstimulustoruralandregionaldevelopmentinEurope.ThiswillharnessEurope’sglobalexpertisenotonlyintheagriculturalsector,butalsoinindustrialsectorsoftheeconomy,suchasthechemicalsandplasticsindustries.Europehaslongbeenawell-establishedcentreofexcellenceandinnovationinagriculture,thechemicalsindustryandbiotechnology.Interconnectedareasincludingsupplychaininnovationandintegratedtransportandlogisticsnetworksdemonstratedby,forexampleon-goinginitiativesinthetransportsectorinTheNetherlandssuchasatthePortofRotterdam.Thedevelopmentandsupportofthebioplasticsindustrywillprovidenewbusinessopportunitiesandinnovativeindustrialdevelopments,inamaterialthatrepresentshighaddedvalue,ascomparedwithotherpotentialusesofbiomassandbio-basedfeedstocks.Asaworldleaderinthebio-basedeconomy,Europehastheopportunitytobecometheleaderinbioplastictechnology,production,applicationanduse.InJuly2010theEuropeanBioplastics
 
2Associationstatedthatby2020atleast5%ofEurope’splasticneedscouldbemetthroughbioplastics.Thiswouldconstituteatenfoldincreaseofbioplastics’shareofthisquicklygrowingmarketin2010.Longertermbioplasticshavethepotentialtotakeamuchhighershareinthetotalplasticmarket,withsomeresearchersestimatingashareof90%asbeingpossible.Throughthis,bioplasticscancontributetoanoverallobjectivewithinEuropeansocietyofresourcereduction,throughforexampleproductreplacementsuchasoutlinedabove,whereviable.Whenconsideringincreasingsupportfor,andstimulating,thebioplasticsindustryandbio-basedmaterialsinEurope,itisalsonecessarytotakeintoconsiderationtheimpactofanabsenceofpoliticalandpolicysupportbynationalandEuropeanpolicy-makers.Europehastheopportunitytoestablishitselfasaworldcentreofthebioplasticsindustryandtofailtosupportthedevelopmentofthissectorcouldresultintherelocationofinnovativeindustryactorswithacommitmenttomoresustainableandrenewableproductstootherregions,withaconsequentimpactontheindustryinEurope.TheEuropeanUnionandinMemberStatesexcelinsupportingresearchandinnovation.InlinewiththeEU’semphasisoninnovationassetoutintheInnovationUnionandtheEurope2020strategy,andinordertotranslatethissuccessintodemonstrableindustryachievements,moreneedstobedonetosupportthebringingofnewandinnovativeproducts,suchasbioplastics,forexamplethroughtheuseofdemonstrationorpilotprojectsandthroughup-scalingofexistinginitiatives.Thehighvalue-addednatureofbioplasticsshouldensurethatfollowingthisinitialstimulationfurtherstructuralsupportmaynolongerberequired.Whatismore,bioplasticsareanalreadyexistingandareatangibledemonstrationtosocietyandconsumersofwhatthetransitiontothebio-basedeconomymeansfortheminpracticalterms.Bioplasticshaveproventhemselvestobetechnologicallydevelopedenoughtoreplacetheuseofconventional(fossil-based)plasticsinmanyapplications.InnovativesmallandmediumsizedbusinessesinEuropeareleadingthewayintheuptakeofbioplastics,andhavesucceededwithoutrecoursetoextensivestructuralsupport.Keybrandleaders–suchasUnilever,Heinz,Coca-Cola,Danone,Frito-Lay,ProcterandGambleandmanyothers–haveexpressedinterestin,orhavealreadycommittedthemselvesto,thelong-termshifttousingbioplasticsandbio-polymersfortheirproductpackaging.Thesecompaniesaremakingthesecommitmentsapartfromtheirrecognitionoftheimportanceofthesustainabilityoftheirbusinessactionsandoflimitingtheenvironmentalimpactoftheirproductsandactivities,andwillbecrucialactorsininfluencingtheexpansionandup-scalingoftheindustry’sproductioncapacities.Theyviewtheuseofbioplasticsovertraditionalplasticsasawaythroughwhichtoachievethesegoals.Itisalsoencouragingtonotethatbioplasticsarebeingincreasinglyusedinmoredurableapplicationssuchascars,homeappliance,cosmetics,mobilephones,officemachinery,children’stoysandbuildingmaterialstonameafew–companiesincludeSony,Toyota,L’Oréal,BAM,Ford,UNGAToys.
TheengagementofsuchcompaniesfromaroundEuropeandtheworlddemonstratesthemarketpotentialofbioplasticsandwillingnesstoinnovate.
 
Thereareissuesrelatedtobioplasticsthatdoneedtobeaddressedtofullyfulfiltheirpotential,andthesequestionsalsorelatetothedevelopmentofthebroaderbio-basedeconomy.Theyincludeappropriatestandardsandlabellingandparticularlyaccesstorawmaterialsandensuringthatthereisnoconflictbetweenthesourcingofrawmaterialsintendedforthebio-economyandthoseintendedforthefoodindustry,andinformingandeducatingcrucialdeterminingstakeholdersattheendofthevaluechainsuchasconsumersandthewastemanagementindustry.
 
3Actorsacrossthevaluechain–whichreferstoalltheactivitiesandservicesthatbringbioplasticsfromconceptiontoenduseinaparticularindustry,fromrawmaterialsupplytoproduction,processing,wholesale,retailandfinallydisposal–inEuropearecollaboratingtoensurethattheissuesaffectingallstepsinthevaluechainaretakenintoconsiderationinpolicyrecommendations.Takinga“valuechainapproach”toeconomicandsocialdevelopmentmeansaddressingthemajorconstraintsandopportunitiesfacedbybusinessesatmultiplelevelsofthevaluechainandaddressingtheminamannerthatbringsmutual,botheconomicandsocial,benefit.TothisendandontheinitiativeofPA,participantsintheDutchBioplasticsValueChain,rangingfromrawmaterialssuppliers,throughtobioplasticsmanufacturersandconverters,toleadingbrandownersandretailers–andsupportedbyEuropeanactorssuchastheEuropeanBioplasticsAssociationandtheMinistryforEconomicAffairs,InnovationandAgriculture(EL&I)ofTheNetherlands–haveoverrecentmonthscollaboratedtoidentifythekeyconstraints/issuesatthepoliticalandregulatorylevelthatneedtobeaddressedtoensurethatbioplasticsfulfiltheirpotentialinEurope.Thesekeyissuesare:
 
Accesstofeedstocks
o
 
EasingtheaccessoftheEuropeanchemicalindustrytocompetitivelypricedagriculturalfeedstocksandbiomass,sourcedeitherfrominsideoroutsidetheEUinsufficientquantitiesandquality
o
 
Re-orientingagriculturalproductiontowardstheproductionofnon-foodfeedstocksforthebio-basedeconomyinsteadofonlyfocusingoncropsforprimaryenergeticuse
o
 
Supportforresearchandinnovationrelatedtothedevelopmentofmoresustainableandmoreproductivewaysoffeedstockandbiomassproduction
 
Financialandpoliticalsupport/endorsement
o
 
Clearpoliticalcommitmentandsupportforthebio-basedeconomyastheonlyfuturealternativetothecurrentcarbon-dependenteconomy,andasprovidingmanyotherbenefitstotheEuropeanpopulation(economic,socialandenvironmental).Governmentsandpolicy-makerscanworktoestablishandencouragemarketpulltowardsbio-basedproductsaspartofthisgoal,inordertosupportandstimulatetheindustrywithinEurope,throughforexampleincentivisationofbio-basedmaterialsorindustriesandotherpolicytools.
o
 
Acknowledgingtheexistingandpotentialcontributionofbioplasticsasademonstrablealternativetotraditionalpetrochemicalplasticsateverypoliticallevel,throughinclusionintheforthcomingcommunicationoftheEuropeanCommissionontheinclusionofthebio-economyconceptintheInnovationUnionofthe“Europe2020”strategy.
o
 
SettingclearrulesandaclearandcoherentregulatoryframeworkthatwillencourageandsupportthecontinuationofthisinnovativeindustryinEurope.
o
 
Anumberofcountrieshavealreadytakentheleadineffortstoincreasethevisibilityandsupportofthebio-basedeconomyinEurope,anexamplebeingtheMemorandumofUnderstandingonthebio-economysignedbyGermany,France,TheNetherlandsandtheFlandersregionofBelgium.Otherstakeholders,suchasnationalandEUauthorities,shouldbeencouragedtosupportsuchinitiatives.
o
 
GovernmentsatthenationalandEuropeanlevelhavekeyroleindemonstratingtoconsumers,forexamplethroughpublicitycampaignsorincentivizingtheuptakeand

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