Thursday, 6 July 2017

RoadToBio: Guiding the EU Chemical Industry towards the Bioeconomy

How can the chemical industry in Europe meet the challenges of global markets while at the same time becoming more sustainable? RoadToBio is an EU-funded project under Horizon 2020 that aims to pave the way for the European chemical industry to embrace a higher biobased portfolio and more competitive success. Despite considerable efforts over the past few years, the production and application of biobased chemicals is still limited. The roadmap developed in RoadToBio will specify the benefits for the chemical industry of moving from a fossil-based industry towards the bioeconomy to meet the societal needs of 2030.

Today (6 July) the project’s first expert workshop is taking place in Brussels to initiate a discussion on the biobased ‘sweet spots for the chemical industry and develop a list of criteria for biobased products and/ or the shift towards a bioeconomy in the chemical sector from the viewpoint of diverse stakeholders.

The results of the project, a Coordination and Support Action (CSA), first announced in the BBI JU 2016 work programme, will be of critical interest to SusChem stakeholders. The SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) focuses on a sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy as a priority and the outcomes of the project will inform future revisions of the SusChem SIRA.

The roadmap will also inform future work programmes for the BBI JU and SPIRE PPP, both SusChem inspired initiatives, and where SusChem takes role in coordinating work programmes and identifying synergies.

The roadmap
The roadmap will consist of two main components: an analysis of the most promising opportunities (the ‘sweet spots’) for the chemical industry to increase its biobased portfolio, and a strategy, action plan and engagement guide to overcome the existing and anticipated barriers and hurdles.

The analytical part of the project will take into account feedstock, technologies and markets as well as regulatory issues, societal needs, consumer acceptance and communication. Business cases will be explored that cover new feedstock for the chemical industry, new intermediates for and by the chemical industry, as well as new end-products.

The business cases will be analysed in detail to understand the market potential, the different up- and downstream actors in the value chain as well as the benefits for society based on techno-economic and life cycle assessments.

30% biobased share
The outcomes of the analysis will be used to formulate a strategy, action plan and engagement guide for the chemical industry. They will describe the actions that need to be taken by all stakeholders to achieve the objective of a 30% share of biobased products in the chemical industry by 2030.

To maintain a realistic perspective and gain the support and commitment of the key players, representatives of the European chemical industry and other stakeholders will be involved in the project from the very beginning, providing input and feedback.

This means the roadmap will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, and disseminated to a wide audience. Furthermore, RoadToBio will bring together different parts of the chemical industry, society, and governing bodies in order to start a dialogue and to create a platform where this action plan can unfold to its full potential.

The consortium of this two-year project that started in May 2017 consists of SusChem founding member DECHEMA eV., BTG Biomass Technology Group BV, E4tech (UK) Ltd., and the nova-Institut.

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