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Developing and validating monitoring systems of environmental sustainability and circularity: collection of best practices and benchmarks

The environmental sustainability and circularity assessment of industrial bio-based systems is instrumental to guarantee and monitor that they are developed with the aim to contribute to the just green transition of the EU economy away from a linear fossil-based system. The method for such assessment would represent an instrument for policymakers and for investors to support the best performing bio-based sectors and to leverage investments and ensure competitive edge solutions. This requires the development of scientifically robust metrics and performance benchmarks, which should benefit to the greatest extent possible from existing methodologies and indicators[[Enabling technologies include (without the list being exhaustive): catalysis, biocatalysis, metabolic engineering, systems biology, enabling digital technologies (e.g. for chemicals design, high-throughput testing, chemical process design, control and optimisation)]]. Methods and indicators should use the available environmental observations efficiently.

Proposals under this topic should:

  • Identify the range of industrial bio-based systems in the scope of CBE within the EU to be analysed in the project.
  • Evaluate existing and/or develop new methods to assess environmental impacts of the selected industrial bio-based systems and their products on climate change (mitigation and adaptation), biodiversity (protection and enhancement), land use and water resources use as priorities, but also on air, water, and soil quality[[ For soil quality indicators, a reference can be found in the Soil Mission Implementation plan https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/research_and_innovation/funding/documents/soil_mission_implementation_plan_final_for_publication.pdf]]. This task should be performed based on the existing initiatives[[Taxonomy, safe- and- sustainable- by design (SSbD) framework, sustainable products initiative (SPI https://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/sustainability/sustainable-product-policy-ecodesign_en)]], the review of relevant studies, including from BBI JU, as well as of past and ongoing R&I projects. The impact on climate should include both the greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon removal[[for a description of the term, see annex Glossary in the CBE JU Annual Work Programme 2022 (https://www.cbe.europa.eu/reference-documents)]] potential of bio-based systems. Assessments should consider the life cycle perspective and should include an extensive study of end-of-life issues of the bio-based products in the scope of CBE JU.
  • Evaluate existing and/or develop new methods to evaluate iLUC risks of bio-based systems (especially concerning bio-based feedstock) and demonstrate low/zero-iLUC risk levels.
  • Evaluate existing and/or develop new criteria and metrics to assess the carbon removal potential of bio-based solutions, (following the upcoming European certification framework[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13172-Certification-of-carbon-removals-EU-rules_en]]).
  • Evaluate the trade-offs and the interconnectivity of all assessed impacts to make a multicriteria analysis and more complex assessment.
  • Evaluate existing and/or develop new metrics of circularity of industrial bio-based systems based on the application of the cascading approach of biomass use, the resources efficiency, including energy, and effectiveness on a life-cycle perspective (i.e. durability, reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling patterns of bio-based products), other circular aspects.
  • Develop monitoring tools of the environmental impacts, iLUC risks, carbon removal potential and circularity of bio-based systems, to measure the pre-set KPIs in CBE JU.
  • Develop digital tools for the environmental, sustainability and circularity monitoring such as those of advanced GIS, mobile web, robotics, cloud innovations, etc.
  • Perform an assessment of the trade-offs and synergies with economic and social objectives (including geographical distribution aspects, urbanization pressures, etc.) of bio-based systems in the scope of CBE and with competing and adjacent economy sectors in the bioeconomy (e.g. food and feed, biofuels and bioenergy), as well as with the fossil-based industrial systems.
  • Collect and analyse the (range of) best available industrial bio-based systems in the scope of CBE JU within the EU in terms of environmental and circular performances, to build a preliminary set of benchmarks or references of best performing industrial systems for similar ones.
  • Disseminate the results of the developed methods to assess and monitor the environmental impacts, the iLUC risks, the circularity and the carbon removal potential of bio-based systems, as well as results from the collection of best available industrial bio-based systems. All results should be publicly available, following the principles of open science (FAIR data) and using of the possibilities offered by the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) to store and give access to research data.
  • Explore the possibility to collaborate with and/or provide inputs to the European Commission Knowledge Centre on Bioeconomy[[https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/bioeconomy/about_en#:~:text=The%20Knowledge%20Centre%20for%20Bioeconomy%20is%20a%20European,and%20filters%20relevant%20information%20and%20makes%20it%20accessible%3B]].
  • Consult stakeholders, making use of existing fora for discussion of stakeholders, including policymakers at EU and national levels.
  • Develop and disseminate guidelines on the assessment methods and monitoring systems developed in the project and all the outputs from the project to leverage the engagement in deploying the environmental sustainability and circularity criteria of bio-based systems. Targeted stakeholders of dissemination may include policymakers, bio-based industries, bio-based feedstock producers and providers, researchers and innovators, consumers, civil society.
  • Proposals may involve financial support to third parties to provide direct support (e.g. in the form of cascading grants) to researchers, developers, SMEs, start-ups and other multidisciplinary actors. A maximum of € 60 000 per third party might be granted. Conditions for third parties support are set out in Part B of the General Annexes. Consortia need to define the selection process of organisations, for which financial support will be granted. Maximum EUR 450 000 of the EU funding can be allocated to this purpose. The financial support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants.

Consortia of applicants should involve LCA experts and researchers in the bio-based technologies, bio-based industries, trade bodies, consumers’ organisations, etc.

International cooperation included with international organisations is encouraged, in order to collect best practices (indicators, methodologies, tools and data) outside EU and to expand the outreach of projects outputs.