The bio-based industry uses biological feedstocks to produce various materials and products and has the potential to contribute to sustainability goals. However, it can also have negative environmental and social impacts. Sustainability Certification Schemes (SCS) and labels can help verify sustainability claims and promote transparency and accountability, but lack of harmonization and transparency can create confusion and increased costs for businesses and consumers.
On 26th January 2023, STAR4BBS held its first virtual stakeholder consultation workshop with various types of stakeholders to support the identification of the most relevant sustainability policy targets related to biomass and bio-based materials and products. Aim of the workshop was to support the prioritisation of sustainability target and it was the chance to gather useful feedback on our initial conceptualisation of the monitoring system, particularly the intention to develop different types of indicators to system characteristics, requirements of the SCS and labels, and evidence of effectiveness.
18 experts were tasked with ranking 15 quantitative sustainability targets. Qualitative targets were also prioritised but by means of an online survey which was later complemented with an internal consultation. The targets were, in both cases, ranked according to their relationship with biomass and bio-based materials and products, their capacity to be fulfilled by means of a SCS and labels and their relevance to fulfil the target of net-zero emissions by 2050. Each target was assigned a score based on the feedback received.
After the exercise (e.g. the ranking of the qualitative targets), participants had the chance to discuss the work done. They suggested to group the priority targets in two groups, one that would contain targets regulating the production aspects of biomass or bio-based materials and products, or the use aspects of biomass or bio-based materials and products. Due to some overlapping in these categories, a third one was established for targets that would fit both. Additionally, targets were organised in two levels according to their specificity. Broad targets are those that are not specific to a certain sector or area and have a wider scope. Conversely, specific targets are specific of a sector or area and are narrower in scope.
Finally, all the stakeholders involved in this workshop underlined that EU policies include a relatively large number of sustainability targets related to biomass and bio-based materials and products and that most of them are general in nature and not legally binding. The selection and prioritisation exercises resulted in a number of identified high-priority targets that could also serve to inform SCS and labels.