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The use of renewable raw materials

There will be an increasing competition for the biomass resources in the future. The use of renewable raw materials should be viewed with approaches that take into account the real value added to society throughout the entire life cycle of the products, the impacts on greenhouse gas and other emissions, the innovativeness and sustainability of the technologies and the needs of the society, including sustainable chemicals, fuels and materials. The type of end use should not be the only criteria of sustainability.

The focus of the EU regulatory framework considering the use of biomass should be the promotion of sustainable development, including climate policy in sectors such as transportation, and bioeconomy. Predictable regulatory framework and level playing field should be the overarching goal. Europe’s competitiveness depends on smart use of resources in which co-operation between different companies and different sectors, and the development and use of advanced processing technologies play a crucial role.

It is thus important to

  1. Pay attention to different means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The chemical industry provides many important solutions
  2. Promote smart refining of biomass and waste. Refining adds value to raw material, and should be preferred against direct burning of fractions for which refining opportunities exist.
  3. Boost the development of industrial symbiosis and value networks. Much of the opportunity within the fields of circular and bioeconomy relies on cross-sector and innovation related actions. 
  4. Shift the focus of the EU regulatory work from detailed and rigid guiding of the use of raw materials (including by-products and waste) to certain end use to holistic lifecycle
    and to promotion of the markets of sustainable products and solutions. The material streams within industries form very complex systems, the true optimization of which often
    requires deep understanding of many technical and local details. The link to standardization is one essential way to include technology expertise and knowledge in policy making.
  5. Reflect on whether a criteria-based definition of advanced biofuels would be more
    appropriate than a list of acceptable feedstocks
    . The current list-based approach in RED Annex IX does not in an optimal way encourage companies to develop new technologies and to look for new innovative raw materials for biofuels production. Also, it would create a better platform for opportunities to create synergies between bio-based products and biofuels.

RED article 25 paragraph 1 proposes a dedicated and binding sub-obligation for advanced biofuels.  These blending mandates for advanced biofuels are supportable provided that they do not hamper the development of other areas of bioeconomy.

Maija Pohjakallio

Senior advisor, Circular and bioeconomy
D.Sc. (Tech)