Good News from Thu, 24 May, 2012:

Standardisation sets the ground rules for sustainable bioeconomy

The goal of transitioning to a bio-based economy raises the issue of how it can be accomplished in the most sustainable way possible. In practice, this means establishing ground rules devised in co-operation with various stakeholders. The only process that could result in such a consensus-based end result is standardisation.

The European Commission came to the same conclusion and established a strategic working group to deal with the topic. On the basis of the working group’s recommendations, the Commission gave the European standardisation organisation CEN the mandate to devise a standard on the issue. A Technical Committee was established to cover horizontal aspects of bio-based products. The work includes basic aspects for bio-based products produced according to the principles of sustainable development. At the same time, the relevant definitions, principles and criteria, as well as the means by which to assess the sustainability of products, are also being devised.

Finland has strong potential to become a leading bio-industrial nation, but the standards being drawn up must also support this opportunity. Even though the bioeconomy debate in Finland often focuses on forests, business and trade circles are well aware of the importance of chemistry solutions and competence in the development of sustainable bioeconomy. The efforts to influence standardisation have been co-ordinated on that basis, and the Finnish perspective on the standardisation work is being put forward jointly by the chemical industry and forest industry. This creates better opportunities to influence amid this challenging standardisation work, as nationally speaking, the strongest competence base for bioeconomy lies within these two industries. It also makes it easier to raise the special issues of the industries.

Common ground rules for sustainably produced bio-based products should be in place by around 2015.