T&E signs onto bioeconomy stakeholder manifesto – a vision for the development of the bioeconomy

T&E has been taking part in the European Bioeconomy Stakeholders Panel organised by the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation, together with representatives from large and small companies, other NGOs, biomass producers, regions and academia. Following constructive discussions, a Manifesto on Bioeconomy has been prepared and signed by most of the participating stakeholders, including T&E. The manifesto, presented to the public on the Bioeconomy Policy Day on 16 November 2017, presents the opportunities and challenges of developing a bioeconomy, as an input to the development of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy.

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 renewable biological resources are limited, and hence should be used efficiently to combat climate change.

In the field of biomass and bioenergy, the manifesto recognises the limits of the bioeconomy due to the limited availability of sustainable biomass – a crucial acknowledgement. This is relevant for our work because in transport, different sectors (road, aviation, shipping) depend heavily on biofuels in their decarbonisation plans. This is often done in silos, not considering other non-transport sectors that want to use the same biomass resource. In practice, multiple sectors end up claiming the same biomass resource without considering its availability. Hence it is important to acknowledge that the transport sector is not the only sector where biomass is used and therefore that it cannot be too reliant on biofuels for decarbonisation.

Among its recommendations, the manifesto states also that incentives for the different uses for biomass should be “at a level playing field”, meaning that energy should not be prioritised over material use, which currently is often the case. The limited resources need to be used effectively to combat climate change, and producing biofuels is not always the most appropriate way to use a resource, as the raw material is removed from the circular economy. There is a need to shift to a more circular bioeconomy. This means that primary resources should not be used for energy purposes, but only residues and wastes, in line with the the waste hierarchy and cascading use principles. Acknowledging the limited availability of biomass resources and its different competing uses, bioenergy will play a small role within the bioeconomy.