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BBI JU – launching the circular bio-based economy in Europe

In these globally challenging times, EU policies such as the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy are key to reaching the EU’s climate and societal goals, while addressing the consequences of the pandemic. European bio-based industries are part of the solution, as they enable new – circular and sustainable – production of consumer goods.

The Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) is a €3.7 billion partnership between the European Commission and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) that supports the development of innovative and competitive bio-based industries in Europe.

It helps derisking investments for the construction and deployment of biorefineries across Europe to contribute to a more sustainable low-emission economy.

Since its establishment in 2014, BBI JU has funded over 120 projects, in particular 11 flagship biorefineries at commercial scale and most importantly first-of-their-kind in Europe, with high replicability potential.

The BBI JU concept has a high leverage effect. For a contribution of €720 million of public funding, the industry will invest close to €2 billion in the biorefineries and demonstration  plants. Moreover, BBI JU projects mobilise all relevant stakeholders – primary producers, large industries, SMEs, clusters, trade associations, academia, research centres and end-users – to develop technologies and business models advancing Europe’s green economy, thus structuring the sector’s value chains. Among other benefits, these projects allow diversifying and growing farmers’ income, leading to stronger rural areas and local communities across Europe.

BBI JU is placing sustainability at the heart of production by enabling a fully circular use of resources. The vast majority of BBI JU projects transform previously underutilised leftovers from agriculture, forestry and fisheries into valuable bio-based materials and products.

By making farming side-products fully circular and developing new, sustainable crop protection and stimulation, BBI JU projects enable the shift to a more sustainable food production system.

All feedstock used must be sustainably sourced in Europe and not compete with food production.

Thanks to their circular production cycle, over 80% of BBI JU projects anticipate lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based counterparts, while 75% of them contribute to waste reduction and valorisation, reuse and recycling. In addition, most BBI JU projects are reducing energy consumption, improving the land use and water efficiency, as well as developing more sustainable use of natural and existing unused resources. The 11 biorefineries funded by BBI JU will generate over 3,500 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs in both urban and rural areas and are expected to reduce about 600,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Such impacts show that bio-based industries have already achieved a lot in Europe and are paving the way towards a climate-neutral continent.

With the benefits they provide to the environment and society, they are key contributors to Europe’s green recovery and to the objectives of the EU Green Deal.

BBI JU founding partners are now proposing a more ambitious initiative to start in 2021. The European Partnership for Circular Bio-based Europe (CBE) will continue the biorefinery deployment in Europe, while involving all stakeholders along the value chain, strengthening collaboration with regional actors and systematically measuring the environmental and socio-economic impacts of funded projects. The partnership is expected to invest massively in coming years, in order to achieve its ambitious goals and to pave the way for climate neutrality by 2050.

Examples of BBI JU success stories:

Disposable nappies have a sizable environmental impact. 8.5 thousand tons of such waste are incinerated or landfilled in Europe every year. The EMBRACED project has developed collection and recycling systems in several EU countries, which turn used nappies into profitable new materials, such as organic fertilizers or packaging films.

The GreenProtein project is transforming leftovers from green vegetables and field crops into high-grade protein for the food industry. The finished product is a viable alternative to egg whites and whey protein – and has huge commercial potential. In this way, the project combines fighting food waste and producing alternative plant-based proteins. The project team expects to process up to 4,000 tons of leftovers per year.

The FIRST2RUN flagship project cultivated oil crops on arid and marginal lands in Sardinia, to be used in the production of biolubricants, cosmetics, bioplastics and additives. Leftovers from the production process were used for energy, feed for animals and added- value chemicals, thus making the value chain even more sustainable.

More information

Visit BBI JU website
Read the publication ‘BBI JU: a high-impact initiative  for green recovery of Europe
Watch the video ‘
BBI JU – Launching the circular economy
Follow BBI JU on Twitter and LinkedIn