EU research on biobased product standard kicks off

By Netherlands Standardization Institute | October 12, 2012

On Sept. 27, the seven partners involved in an EU funded research program held their kick-off meeting in Paris. Led by the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), the project executes pre-standardization research for biobased products. The results automatically feed into the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) standardization process on the same topic. The goal is to provide the European and global market with horizontal standards on biomass content and biodegradability that have been assessed on a first set of different products, such as solvents, plastics and lubricants.

The application of standards and certification systems in the European biobased product industry has positive long-term effects on the overall development of biobased product markets. Trade barriers are reduced and the development of a pan-European market for biobased products is promoted. Finally, public acceptance of biobased products is increased through ensuring and verifying the sustainable sourcing of raw materials, the effective bio-content and clear indication of their (comparative) functionality in relation to the regular products. The Knowledge Based Bio-based Products' Pre-Standardization (KBBPPS) project aims at increasing the uptake speed of standards and certification systems for biobased products.

Following Mandates by the European Commission, the European Standardization Committee initiated a Technical Committee on "Biobased products," CEN/TC 411. The project KBBPPS is requested under the FP7 EU research programme to execute pre- and co-normative research for this committee. By participating in this committee and by exchanging with for instance ASTM, KBBPPS will allow the European stakeholders to progress with well-defined, globally aligned and sound test methods correlated to actual field behaviour and applicability in the lab.

For this, a research consortium between the Agricultural University of Athens, the University of York, Wageningen University, ECN, OWS and nova-Institute has been established, managed by NEN. In addition, associations like EuropaBio, European Bioplastics and Association Chimie du Végétal (ACDV) are connected to the project, just as research groups like Scion in New Zealand, Beta-Analytic in the UK and Michigan State University in the U.S. cooperate in the project. A first industry workshop to exchange ideas is planned to be held in conjunction with the "International Conference on Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-based Plastics & Composites" in April 2013 in Cologne, Germany. The overall KBBPPS project time is three years. But intermediate results for the standardization process are expected already in the upcoming twelve months. A project-website that will be combined with a CEN bio-based information platform will follow soon.

The KBBPPS project covers research and demonstration on biobased carbon content determination, biomass content methods not solely dependent on 14C-analysis and biodegradability and eco-toxicity test schemes. Next, identification and resolution of functionality related bottlenecks with the view to developing, harmonising and validating test methodologies will be undertaken. The possibilities for improving sample preparation, fractionation and thermal treatments will be studied in order to cover biobased carbon and other bio-based elements’ determination. Next, practical solutions for stakeholders, lab and field tests on biodegradation or biologically derived elements will be investigated. The goal in the end is that the results can be directly implemented into European standards.

The KBBPPS project has received funding from the European Union