BIORECER: unlocking the full potential of biomass and biowaste resources

Author: Isabel Álvarez-Rico (Euradia) 

Biomass and biowaste are valuable resources that hold immense potential as secondary raw materials. However, their true value and utilization in bio-based value chains are often hampered by the lack of proper evaluation, certification, traceability, and transparency. These limitations restrict their availability, effective use, and profitability within the bio-based industries. Addressing these challenges is crucial for realizing the full potential of biomass and biowaste utilization in creating sustainable and climate-friendly solutions. 

Why this is important:

  • Evaluation: Proper evaluation of biomasses and biowastes is essential to determine their suitability for specific applications. It involves assessing their chemical composition, physical properties, and potential environmental impacts. Through evaluation, stakeholders can identify the most suitable biomass and biowaste resources for different value chains, ensuring optimal utilization and resource efficiency.
  • Certification: Certification provides an official endorsement of the sustainability and quality of bio-based products derived from biomasses and biowastes. It involves verifying compliance with specific standards and criteria related to environmental performance, social responsibility, and economic viability. Certification offers assurance to consumers, investors, and other stakeholders that the products meet certain standards and have undergone rigorous evaluation processes.
  • Traceability: Traceability refers to the ability to track and trace the origin, production processes, and supply chains of bio-based products. It involves maintaining a comprehensive record of relevant information, such as the source of biomass or biowaste, cultivation methods, transportation, processing, and distribution. Traceability enables transparency and accountability by allowing stakeholders to verify the sustainability claims and ensure the ethical sourcing of biomass resources.
  • Transparency: Transparency ensures that relevant information regarding biomasses and biowastes is readily available to stakeholders. It includes sharing data on the origin, production methods, environmental impacts, and social aspects of bio-based products. Transparent communication fosters trust, facilitates informed decision-making, and enables stakeholders to make environmentally and socially responsible choices.
hand of human holding economy circular icon.

The importance of evaluation, certification, traceability, and transparency lies in their ability to address key challenges associated with biomasses and biowastes in bio-based industries:

  1. Environmental Performance: Evaluation and certification ensure that biomass and biowaste meet certain sustainability criteria, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, minimized resource depletion, and decreased environmental pollution. This promotes the use of renewable and environmentally friendly resources, contributing to a more sustainable and circular economy.
  2. Trade and Market Access: Certification provides a common framework and recognized standards, facilitating trade and market access for bio-based products. It helps overcome barriers and harmonizes requirements across different regions, promoting international cooperation and enabling the growth of bio-based industries on a global scale.
  3. Ethical and Social Responsibility: Evaluation, certification, traceability, and transparency promote ethical practices, including fair trade, protection of labor rights, and consideration of social impacts. These aspects ensure that biomasses and biowastes are sourced and processed in a socially responsible manner, safeguarding the well-being of workers and local communities.
  4. Investor Confidence: Evaluation, certification, traceability, and transparency contribute to building investor confidence in bio-based industries. Reliable and transparent information on the origin and sustainability of bio-based products helps attract investments, as it demonstrates compliance with environmental regulations and market demand for sustainable solutions.

Recognizing the importance of overcoming these obstacles, the BIORECER project, has taken the initiative to develop guidelines that will advance current certification schemes. The project aims to encourage the establishment of new bio-based value chains and promote the use of biological feedstocks as substitutes for fossil-based raw materials. By doing so, BIORECER actively supports the goals of achieving a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, as outlined in the European Green Deal.

The development of guidelines for evaluation and certification schemes is a pivotal step towards enhancing the traceability and transparency of bio-based products. These guidelines will help standardize the evaluation process, ensuring that key aspects such as environmental performance and trade are taken into consideration. By establishing consistent and rigorous certification approaches, the BIORECER project seeks to provide reliable and comparable information on the origin and sustainability of bio-based products.

One of the significant challenges in the current landscape of certification schemes is the lack of homogeneity and coherence. The absence of a unified framework hinders traceability and transparency, making it difficult for stakeholders to access relevant information on the origin of bio-based products. This lack of clarity undermines confidence in the market, limiting the growth and adoption of bio-based industries.

The BIORECER project aims to overcome these obstacles by actively promoting the adaptation of certification schemes. Within the framework of the project, ten certification schemes are expected to be adapted in Europe, along with two non-European countries. This concerted effort will facilitate the integration of consistent evaluation and certification practices, leading to improved traceability and transparency throughout the bio-based value chains.

By encouraging the adoption of these guidelines and promoting the use of biological feedstocks, the BIORECER project seeks to unleash the full potential of bio-based industries. These efforts will contribute to the creation of sustainable and climate-friendly solutions while supporting the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy.

BIORECER will take a multi-stakeholder approach to test its framework with different biological feedstocks, such as by-products from wastewater and sewage sludge, fish canning industries, algae, agriculture, and forests. They will also consider different value chains at regional level.

To extend the scope of BIORECER, two online tools will be created: a participatory platform to generate synergies between the different actors, and an online tool that will analyze the data using artificial intelligence techniques.