Sustainable business models for a greener Europe

bio-based industries
© Elena Noeva

Open Access Government brings to light the essential role of bio-based industries in Europe, charting the work of Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU)

Europe is working to clean up its air, water and soil, reversing negative human impacts. Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) have, over the last seven years, helped work towards this, by funding more than 140 projects that promote circular, bio-based innovations across Europe. These projects help in areas from reducing waste and plastics pollution to preserving biodiversity, as well as replacing toxic chemicals with much healthier bio-based products.

To continue this momentum, and work towards the European Commission’s recently published zero pollution action plan, BBI JU are continuing to fund projects with aligning goals to the plan, specifically helping to:

  • Fight domestic waste and plastic pollution.
  • Work towards zero waste.
  • Reduce the environmental impact of textiles.
  • Protect biodiversity.
  • Give farmers sustainable alternatives to pesticides for crop protection.
  • Preserve the health of Europeans.

BBI JU are also continuing to demonstrate the essential role of bio-based industries in the green recovery of Europe, by having recently signed grant agreements with 18 new projects, selected for funding under the 2020 call for proposals. 199 beneficiaries from 26 countries globally are receiving BBI JU’s financial support, which is worth €104.5 million altogether.

The newly granted projects will promote innovations, introduce new tools for the actors of the bio-based economy sector, and are divided into four different types of actions:

  • Demonstration actions (four): Totalling almost €24 million, these will establish demo-scale production facilities in Europe.
  • Research & innovation actions (seven): Receiving €30.4 million, their purpose is to exploit new technologies and narrow the gaps within value chains.
  • Coordination and support actions (four): Holding nearly €5 million of BBI JU funding, these will address any challenges in the bioeconomy to accelerate the market uptake of bio-based products.
  • Flagship actions (three): Receiving €45.2 million to build first-of-their-kind biorefineries in Europe.

What are biorefineries?

A biorefinery is a refinery that converts biomass into energy and other beneficial by-products. They support the transition towards a more resource-efficient and sustainable low-carbon economy by delivering bio-based products that replace fossil-based ones.

Setting up first-of-their-kind biorefineries funded across Europe produces competitive, sustainable bio-based materials at a large scale and deploys new technologies and business models, respecting zero waste. They thus help to spur innovation and boost the bio-based economy in Europe.

As we know, bio-based products have a significantly lower environmental impact than fossil-based ones, and this is because production processes are based on the circular use of renewable resources and therefore emit fewer greenhouse gases. De-risking investments in bio-based industries and connecting production to the market are thus essential to creating a competitive and sustainable bioeconomy in Europe where economic prosperity goes hand in hand with the protection of the environment.

BBI JU-funded flagship projects consistently have remarkable socio-economic impacts in European regions, as they have created 3,500 new direct jobs and 10,000 indirect ones, mainly in rural and coastal areas, thus contributing to the revitalisation of these regions.

Executive Director Philippe Mengal stated earlier this year that the signature of the 18 new agreements “is the seventh and last call of the BBI JU before transitioning to the new Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking, a partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing number of participants in our calls for proposals. This year, Central and Eastern European countries were significantly engaged. I am very pleased by the diversity and the quality of the projects selected for funding. All sectors of the bio-based industries are represented, which shows the relevance of the BBI JU to develop the bio-based economy and its role for a greener Europe.”

It is clear that BBI JU has played a vital role in the development of Europe’s bioeconomy, and will continue to do through its successor the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU), which will build on the success of BBI JU while stepping up its contribution to the EU’s climate targets, in line with the European Green D


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