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Issue 01/2015

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Politics Progress in

Politics Progress in standardization of the “Bio-based Products” – Terminology European CEN develop new categories CClaiming a product to be bio-based is always a critical topic. Everybody would agree that, if a product is not entirely made from renewable resources, the percentage of the bio-based content should be mentioned on the product. But what if the exact percentage is not known or varies due to processing particularities? What about bio-based claims that are based on calculatory mass balance approaches? The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has initiated the TC 411 (Technical Committee “Bio-based products”) to provide more clarity. At the last CEN/TC 411 meeting in Ludwigshafen, Germany (November 2014) a new terminology for different kinds of bio-based products was introduced. Three categories are distinguished: Category 1 comprises products with a claimed bio-based content, which1 comprises products with a claimed bio-based content, which is verifiable through a method as described in CEN/TR 16721 bio-based content (such methods include, among others, the 14 C radio carbon test (ASTM 6866)). These products can be called bio-based products. (Comment: Most of the actual bio-based plastics are in this group.) Category 2 comprises products with a measurable biobased content, but a claimed bio-based content that “deviates systematically” from the actual bio-based content. For example if the claimed bio-based content can only be given as e.g. 25 – 30 % - the actual bio-based content in a certain example of the product being e.g. 29 % - these products can also be called bio-based products. CEN/TC 411 demands that the boundaries for claiming biobased products. are that it shall be accompanied by a statement of the minimum guaranteed bio-based content. This means that these types of products still have a guaranteed minimum amount of bio-based content. As an example: The CocaCola PlantBottle does not have a fixed bio-based content. As a category 2 product the labelling should include the minimum guaranteed bio-based content of the bottle. In Category 3, products shall be sorted, that are claimed to have a certain bio-based content, but the actual bio-based content of the product “deviates systematically” from the claimed bio-based content and, opposite to Category 2, the bio-based content can potentially be zero. Examples are the so-called “renewable polyethylenes (PE) and polypropylenes (PP)“ from SABIC and other new plastics from BASF or DuPont. These products claim to be (partly) renewable (biobased) and claim a certain input of biomass in a huge and complex chemical plant, then mathematically allocating this biomass input to the produced plastic. These shall not be called bio-based products”. CEN/TC 411 has debated whether category 3 products are or should be covered by CEN/TC 411 at all. The decision was made to create an ad-hoc group (AHG) to write a discussion document to CEN on whether to include category 3 products in the CEN/TC 411 scope. Implications for sustainability, certification and declaration should be taken into account. Based on the proposal the decision will be made, whether CEN/TC 411 will develop standards and labelling for those products. Global approach With the target to achieve international harmonisation in standards for the terminology for bio-based products first exploratory talks by CEN and the EC with USDA and ASTM were held already in 2013 and 2014. The communication concerning this matter shall be continued in 2015. Sustainability Another topic that the CEN/TC 411 dealt with in working group 4 is “Sustainability criteria, life cycle analysis and related issues”. Over the last year this working group has discussed the suitable sustainability criteria for biomass, used for the production of bio-based products. Along with other proposals, one proposal from Germany (INRO) and The Netherlands (GreenDeal) asked for strict criteria, stronger than the existing for biofuels. A pre-vote showed that the CEN Members will probably not follow this proposal. About 75 % of the members voted for following the line of “ISO/PC 248 – Sustainability criteria for bioenergy” where thresholds shall be agreed upon by (sales) contracts. This would mean creating a level playing field between biofuels and bio-based products – concerning the same sustainability criteria. In 2015 the final voting will take place. By: Michael Carus Member of CEN/TC 411 Managing Director European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) and nova-Institute Hürth, Germany 36 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/15] Vol. 10

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