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A roadmap for the chemical industry to a bioeconomy


Develop a roadmap for the chemical industry towards a higher bio-based portfolio and enjoying the benefits from the opportunities offered by the bioeconomy. The proposal will develop a roadmap for a better, faster, and more active contribution of the chemical industry in Europe towards the bioeconomy by 2030. The study should look at:

  • Identification of ‘sweet spots’ for the chemical industry in the next 10 years (i.e. where can the chemical industry be more effective and beneficial).
  • Competitiveness analysis between bio- and fossil-based products, including LCA’s to assess environmental and socio-economic benefits.
  • Identification of new market segments for bio-based products.
  • Compilation of regulatory barriers and a strategy to overcome them.
  • Show contribution of bio-based products to meeting societal needs.
  • Ways to communicate the benefits of bio-based products and increase public trust.
  • Communicate the chemical industry’s role as a critical driver of change into the bio-based economy and society.
  • Illustrate and interconnect up- and downstream players of the value chain.
  • Identify mutual benefits of cooperation between fossil- and bio-based industries.
  • Start up a process to strengthen the cooperation between the chemical industry, societal and governmental organisations.
  • Spell out the contribution of the chemical industry in a bioeconomy in the framework of the circular economy.

Developing a roadmap for the chemical industry should involve all stakeholders, seek complementarity to ongoing communication and awareness programmes for the community at large and also include:

  • Printed documents, events, workshops, showcases, and website to increase the awareness and importance of bio-based products.
  • The creation of an expert network on bioeconomy, sustainability and policy issues.

The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) will set up an industry expert group from among its members which will provide expertise in the implementation and follow-up of the different tasks and also provide support to the organisation of meetings or workshops. This expert group should be a central part of the governance structure of the project.

Indicative funding: It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of up to EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.

The chemical industry in Europe is facing a number of challenges that may affect its global competitive position. The top three among these challenges relate to the enormous growth of the market and subsequent investments and production in China; the production of chemicals and materials in the Middle East based on amply available oil and gas; and the ‘shale gas revolution’ in the USA providing the local industry a significant advantage in raw material and energy availability. As a result, the share of European chemical production has dropped around 50% in the last 20 years. In addition, major new investments in production capacity have been taking place in China and the USA, while chemicals from these areas are increasingly finding their way to the European market.

To meet these challenges, the chemical industry in Europe has stepped up its drive towards higher resources- (raw material and water) and energy-efficiency, and has focused on business and operational excellence towards sustainability. While safeguarding base chemicals production, the industry has started to utilise renewable raw materials, making ‘drop-in’ bio-based chemicals to replace fossil-based products where justified, and at the same time making new bio-based products with new functionalities for initial niche market applications.

During the past years, many successful production and subsequent use of bio-based building blocks have started up. However, their production and applications are limited. Aside from technical and operational challenges, there is a plethora of hurdles in the fields of regulation and acceptance hindering the chemical industry to increase its bio-based portfolio.

The challenge is to make a clear overview of the hurdles in the fields of regulation and acceptance, set up a plan for their removal and agree on a roadmap for the chemical industry to increase production of bio-based building blocks for market applications that meet societal needs. The roadmap will specify the benefits for the chemical industry along the path towards a bioeconomy.

  • Provide a roadmap for the chemical industry in Europe towards a valued and beneficial contribution to a bioeconomy, including production of marketable bio-based products that meet societal needs in specific market segments.
  • Provide a strategy by and for the chemical industry to unfold the full potential of bio-based products in Europe, including the challenges in rules and regulations that need to be overcome in order to boost the chemical sector’s participation in the bio-economy.