As part of the European Commission’s 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan – one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal – the Commission will implement the Bioeconomy Action Plan, enabling greater circularity for sustainable and circular bio-based sectors and also ensuring the sustainability of renewable bio-based materials.

The European Commission’s definition of the bioeconomy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources, residues, by-products and side streams into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products, services and bioenergy.   The EU’s Bioeconomy Strategy was adopted in 2012 and updated in 2018, with the overall objective to provide inclusive economic growth within the boundaries of sustainable development.

Unlocking the potential of Europe’s economic sectors

Bio-based products from the chemicals and plastics sectors represent only a small portion of the whole European bioeconomy sector. They generate approximately 2.5% of the total bioeconomy turnover, equaling around Euro 60 billion. The bio-based products’ industry turnover is about 10 % of the entire chemical industry.

The development of a sustainable bioeconomy in Europe is key to unlocking the potential of many well-established as well as new economic sectors. Strengthening Europe’s bioeconomy can significantly accelerate progress towards achieving key EU policy objectives, such as transitioning to a circular economy, becoming climate neutral by 2050, and strengthening the EU industrial base.

Cefic’s views

Cefic believes that renewable resources of biological origin offer the chemical industry an opportunity to diversify its feedstocks to produce bio-based products. Cefic believes bio-based feedstocks can truly make a difference in the production of bio-based plastics and chemical building blocks which can be used for manufacturing a broad range of products, such as, plastics, paints, adhesives, lubricants, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, detergents, cleaning products and many more applications.

In its Mid-Century Vision, Cefic predicts that biomass consumption for production of chemicals will have doubled by 2050 with respect to 2018. To meet this forecast, both the chemical industry and EU policymakers will need to take certain measures.

The chemical industry intends to boost its contribution to bio-based products with an improved sustainability profile and a performance and functionality of its products which is at least equal to or better than existing alternatives which are currently mostly fossil derived. In turn, Cefic calls upon the policymakers to provide a supportive policy framework to bring the bio-based production at scale.

For instance, a more accurate methodology to measure the carbon footprint of bio-based products within the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) could incentive a switch to bio-based production. A true transition to climate neutrality needs accurate accounting for biogenic carbon. Download the Cefic position paper on Product Environmental Footprint.

In Cefic’s recently launched position paper “Reviewing the European Bioeconomy Strategy – Enablers, lessons and 10 recommendations”, the chemical industry calls for more certainty, visibility, consistency, and better policy coordination, for the EU to become a frontrunner in this sector and further capitalise on successes achieved by the strategy so far.


Position paper and supporting documents

Bioeconomy | Cefic position : Delivering the bioeconomy agenda for 2024 and beyond

Bio-based plastics | Cefic position

Biodegradable and compostable plastics (BDCP) | Cefic position

Towards an accurate accounting for carbon from biomass in the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) | Position paper

Bio economy | Cefic position

Cefic commends the ambition of the first European Bioeconomy Strategy and its noteworthy successes. The chemical industry sees a lot of untapped potential for the bioeconomy to contribute to the ambitions of the EU Green Deal. It calls for more certainty, visibility, consistency, and better policy coordination for the EU to be a frontrunner in bioeconomy

Cefic view paper on how to boost the Bioeconomy sector

Bio-Based Products (BBPs) developed by the chemical industry are key to support the European Green Deal and Europe’s ambition to become climate neutral by 2050, yet actions need to be taken to bring the bio-based production at scale.

European bioeconomy stakeholders Manifesto

Biodiverstiy and Ecosystem services – what are they all about?