Harmonising the bio-based economy policies

Standardisation can accelerate bio-based economy growth. Here, Suzan van Kruchten, Standardisation Consultant, NEN explains

Bio-based products represent an important part of the bio-economy, which is seen as a major source of economic growth and employment for Europe in the 21st century. Standardisation can accelerate bio-economy growth as several projects of NEN, The Netherlands Standardization Institute, show!


Standards, being voluntary agreements between stakeholders, are a powerful tool to support the uptake of the bio-economy! Standards will support the growth of the bio-based products market by increasing transparency, reducing technical barriers for trade and boosting customer confidence.

In 2011, the European Commission requested the development of horizontal standards for bio-based products. Serving as the acting secretary of the European Technical Committee CEN/TC 411 bio-based products, NEN has helped to develop these standards. Some examples:

  • Common terminology (EN 16575)
  • Methods for determining bio-based content (EN 16587-1)
  • Sustainability Aspects (EN 16751)
  • Life Cycle Assessment (EN 16760)
  • Declaration tools for B2B (EN 16848) and B2C (EN 16935).

Standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder consensus process between private companies, government and civil society organisations. Therefore, with standardisation, you can count on broad societal support!

Pre- and co-normative research

Another aspect, where NEN has proved its value for the bio-based economy by building knowledge, is the execution of pre- and co-normative research for bio-based products. This means setting up test methods, validating these methods and establishing test method standards. NEN has led several pre- and co-normative projects, like the projects “Open-Bio” and “STAR4BBI”.


Certificates enable companies to demonstrate that they comply with standards. Certification schemes specify the rules for the certification process. NEN has established two of these certification schemes relevant for the bio-economy:

Better Biomass: is used by organisations to demonstrate that the biomass they produce, process, trade or use meets well established international sustainability criteria.

Bio-based content: is used to specify and validate the amount of biomass in a bio-based product, based on the European standard EN 16785-1:2015 “Bio-based products – Bio-based content – Part 1: Determination of the bio-based content using the radiocarbon analysis and elemental analysis”.  This standard provides a method of determining the bio-based content of solid, liquid and gaseous products using the radiocarbon analysis and elemental analyses.


Additionally, NEN is involved in dissemination and engaging relevant stakeholders. InnProBio (Forum for Bio-Based Innovation in Public Procurement) is an example where public procurers are informed and encouraged to engage in the bio-economy. The project develops tools for purchasers, facilitates the creation of buyers groups, and increases awareness in order to lower the barriers to purchasing bio-based products.

More information

Want more details on our work for the bio-economy? Please visit our website www.biobasedeconomy.eu

Suzan van Kruchten

Standardisation Consultant


Tel: +31152690165




Please note: this is a commercial profile


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