On 12 April 2016, the Public Procurement Working Group of the European Commission’s Expert Group for Bio-based Products published 15 recommendations for an increased uptake of bio-based products in public procurement programs. The report, launched at the BioEconomyUtrecht2016 stakeholder conference, states that benefits are reciprocal.
Peter Schintlmeister, Life Science Expert at the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Austria, and Chair of the Expert Group said: “Public procurers get access to greener, more sustainable and fossil free products, while the bioeconomy gets a boost by way of access to a market accounting for nearly 20% of all purchases in the EU”.
The 15 recommendations include promotional campaigns targeting specific materials, regions and sectors, roll-out of standards and labels, benchmarking and goal setting, but also manifesto definition, targeted outreach and general communication, technical support to procurers, as well as intervention on legislation if and where possible. The Expert Group identified multiple areas for action to help grow such a large and diverse sector, and acknowledged that it will take time and effort to make a significant impact compared to fossil-based products.
Each of the 15 recommendations is driven by the overarching principle of transitioning to an ever more sustainable and circular economy. Bodies seeking to implement the recommendations at regional, national and European levels will test their implementation strategies against this principle.
To drive forward the implementation of these recommendations in the spirit of entrepreneurialism, confidence and ambition, the Expert Group report concluded that it would be necessary to find the resources for a continuous and dedicated coordination.
Led by NEN, the CEN Technical Committee ‘Bio-based products’ (CEN/TC 411) has been developing European standards with uniform requirements regarding the characteristics of bio-based products. These cover horizontal issues including LCA, sustainability, end-of-life options and bio-based (carbon) content. These standards play an important role in the uptake of bio-based products, by enabling clear communication about the benefits of bio-based products. NEN is also managing certification schemes for: sustainability (Better Biomass) and bio-based content and is participating in the EU funded projects Open-Bio (Opening bio-based markets via standards, labelling and procurement) and InnProBio (Forum for bio-based innovation in public procurement).