In 2013, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) was entrusted to set up a Bioeconomy Oberservatory with the task to perform a comprehensive environmental sustainability assessment of various bio-based products and their supply chains using a life-cycle perspective. In November 2015, JRC published its report on the ‘Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Bioeconomy Products and Processes’, which compiles the main results and outputs of this assessment and includes 14 environmental sustainability factsheets on food & feed, industrial bio-based products, and bioenergy.

The report has now been updated, in particular the environmental factsheets on 7 of the industrial bioproducts, including PHA, lactic acid, PLA, succinic acid, polyhydroxyalkanoates, and 1,3-propanediol.

JRC addressed comments made by experts of European Bioplastics to the initial report and revised the respective factsheets accordingly, which now include the latest available data in the assessment of the environmental footprint of these biopolymers. In particular, newly available LCA information on lactic acid led to the consideration of changes in industrial practices in the SWOT analysis of the material. Furthermore, the ‘technology readiness’ score for the production of PHA from waste water was raised from 5 to 6, and the technology readiness score for the production of PDO from fermentation of glycerol using pure bacteria cultures was raised from 4,5 to 7.

The report serves as an essential information basis for the European Commission to assess the progress and the impact of the bioeconomy and to form policy decisions in the framework of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy. As the Commission’s in-house science service, JRC provides EU policies with evidence-based scientific and technical support throughout the whole policy cycle. The JRC works closely with the Directorates-General and their input serves as knowledge and information basis for most EU policy decisions.

The updated factsheets are available on the JRC website. The full report will be uploaded to the website in the coming days or can be downloaded from the EUBP website.