15 February 2012

Commission unveils plan to boost bio-based economy

Developing standards and labels for bio-based products are among 12 actions proposed by the European Commission as part of its bio-economy plan published on 13 February 2012. The strategy closely follows recommendations made by an ad-hoc advisory group at the end of 2011. Labels for products such as bio-plastics would help boost market uptake through, for example, green public procurement.

"It is currently impossible to differentiate bio-based products from traditional ones", explains Joanna Dupont of trade association Europabio. "Product standards should also help provide a market framework for this emerging sector and prove that it is a sustainable one," she continues. For example, the standards could be used to verify claims about the bio-degradability of these products.

No new EU legislation will be proposed as the commission believes existing instruments in the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the Horizon 2020 R&D plan are sufficient to achieve the strategy's ambitions. According to the commission, Horizon 2020, which allocates €4.5bn to food security, sustainable agriculture and the bio-economy, could create 130,000 jobs in this area. The plan does not propose setting indicative or binding targets for certain bio-based product categories as recommended by the ad-hoc advisory group. A spokesman said this could be further debated through stakeholder platforms.

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