Bio-based products are made entirely or partially from biomass. However, in order to be sustainable, a non-fossil feedstock base is not enough. Other
aspects, such as agricultural practices for the cultivation of the biomass, energy used in the production process, process agents such as chemicals, solvents, etc. have to be considered to ensure that a product is sustainable across its life cycle.
On the other hand, bio-based products can offer improved functionalities with reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, less toxicity, less waste and better end-of-life options for final disposal.
The cultivation of renewable resources (usually from forestry and agriculture, sometimes from marine aquaculture) has a huge impact on the sustainability of the final bio-based products. Due to the EU’s renewable energy policy, a multitude of certifiers have developed certification schemes for agricultural biomass that adhere to the conditions laid down in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED). Most of them have by now adapted their schemes in a way that they can be applicable also to materials, not only to energy. For wood, sustainability certification schemes were developed before the renewable energy policy due to concerns about unsustainable forestry practices in many parts of the world.
Examples of certification schemes for sustainable biomass are:
Better Biomass is an international certification system for solid, liquid and gaseous biomass. The Better Biomass certificate is used to demonstrate the sustainability of the biomass used for energy, fuels or bio-based products.
InnProBio factsheet No 2: Sustainability of bio-based products