Environment

European Commission unveils action plan to develop sustainable and circular bioeconomy

Photo: Honeywell/Wikimedia Commons

Published

October 12, 2018

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Published:

October 12, 2018

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The European Commission has put forward an action plan today to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy, as part of its drive to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. It aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development, according to a press release from the EU executive.

In a world of finite biological resources and ecosystems, an innovation effort is needed to feed people, and provide them with clean water and energy, the press release reads, adding that the bioeconomy can turn algae into fuel, recycle plastic, convert waste into new furniture or clothing, or transform industrial by-products into bio-based fertilizers. The bioeconomy has the potential to generate 1 million new green jobs by 2030, the commission said.

Delivering a sustainable circular bioeconomy requires a concerted effort by public authorities and industry. To drive this collective effort, the commission will launch 14 concrete measures in 2019.

The measures will include scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sectors, which is to be achieved through the establishment of a EUR 100 million Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform to bring bio-based innovations closer to the market and de-risk private investments in sustainable solutions, as well as by facilitating the development of new sustainable bio-refineries across Europe.

Another key objective will be to rapidly deploy bioeconomies across Europe, the commission said, noting that member states and regions, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have a large underused biomass and waste potential.

To address this, the commission will develop a strategic deployment agenda for sustainable food and farming systems, forestry and bio-based products; set up an EU Bioeconomy Policy Support Facility for EU countries under Horizon 2020 to develop national and regional bioeconomy agendas; and launch pilot actions for the development of bioeconomies in rural, coastal and urban areas, for example on waste management or carbon farming.

Also a key objective is to protect the ecosystem and understand the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy, the commission said, noting that Europe’s ecosystem is faced with severe threats and challenges, such as a growing population, climate change, and land degradation. To this end, the commission will implement measures that include an EU-wide monitoring system to track progress towards a sustainable and circular bioeconomy.

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