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International and EU sustainability certification schemes for bio-based systems

Climate neutral circular bio-based systems have the potential to establish a zero-pollution economy provided that they are developed sustainably. Environmental, social and economic impacts and trade-offs should be traced along value chains and trades to enable responsible production and consumption. Activities under this topic should assess scope, potential and requirements of international and EU sustainability certification schemes and business-to-business labels applicable to biological resources including primary biomass resources and bio-waste and residues intended for bio-based industrial value-chains and to bio-based materials and products, also in complementarity with actions on bio-based innovation and market measures. Industrial bio-based systems do not include food/feed, biofuels, bioenergy and cultural/recreation sectors. However, relevant initiatives in the field of assessment and certification of environmental sustainability arising from EU policies in the bioeconomy sectors should be taken into account. Traceability of biological resources and bio-based materials and products on a business-to-business level, at the EU and the global scale, should be part of certification, including aspects on primary and secondary biomass and bio-based intermediates in global trade flows and imports into the EU.

Proposals should:

  1. Review and analyse existing international and EU sustainability certification schemes and business-to-business labels for biological resources. The analysis should encompass schemes applied/applicable to biological resources intended for industrial bio-based value chains. Certified environmental, social and economic impacts and trade-offs should be analysed. Bio-waste and any biological secondary raw materials from rural/urban/industrial activities are included in the definition of biological resources.
  2. Collect data and figures on volumes of biological resources and bio-based materials and products in global trade flows and imports into (exports from) the EU and their geographic distribution, distinguishing between certified and uncertified resources and materials/products. The data collection should be based on existing and consolidated market databases.
  3. Review and analyse existing international and EU sustainability certification schemes and business-to-business labels for bio-based materials and products with the same level of detail apply to the analysis of resources (point a).
  4. Assess existing/develop new monitoring system and indicators of effectiveness and robustness of existing certification schemes and labels reviewed in point a) and c). The task should consider the life cycle analysis perspective and identify minimum requirements of a certification scheme to ensure its completeness covering environmental, social and economic aspects.
  5. Demonstrate/test effectiveness of existing (voluntary) certification schemes and labels and monitor their robustness; this action includes testing the monitoring system and indicators assessed/developed within the project, point d, on the reviewed schemes, point a) and c). The results should consolidate the optimal monitoring system and indicators and provide a preliminary selection of (parts of) the certification schemes covering the minimum requirements identified in point d). The same for labels.
  6. Assess costs from the adoption of certification schemes and labels in selected industrial bio-based value-chains. The assessment includes selecting a range of value-chains in the EU and Associated Countries and the corresponding biological resources and flows of materials and products among those certified and reviewed in point a and c and collecting data and figures on the known costs: actual economic and internalised environmental and social ones. The evaluation of the externalised environmental and social costs should be part of the overall assessment, based either on primary data or/and on models taken from peer-reviewed literature in the related fields of economy, social and environmental sciences.
  7. Evaluate the feasibility of business-to-business labels that award best performances either of resources or material or products from either environmental or social aspects. The feasibility should include modelled economic costs and benefits.
  8. Analyse and develop recommendations on how to promote the best practices in the adoption of effective and robust certification schemes and business-to-business labels. Promoting actions may include deployment and take-up by industrial sectors of certification schemes, building trust between business stakeholders, deploying corporate responsibility, engagement with and awareness of bio-based sectors.
  9. Engage in cooperation with international partners and organisations, to increase impact and outreach, while ensuring sufficient focus on the EU’s situation.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

Proposals should include a task dedicated to sharing methodologies and findings with projects funded within this topic. Proposals’ consortia may include, but not be limited to, experts in certification schemes and stakeholders of the international and EU trade of biomass resources and bio-based materials and products.

This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines.