Standardization in the bio-based economy

The use of bio-based resources is growing. This has triggered innovative technologies and use of new bio-based materials and products. Companies, governments and consumers are confronted with numerous uncertainties. These may limit new products and technologies from growing into full scale commercial applications. The market needs to consolidate the state of the art, to enable commercialisation of new technologies, products and further research, development and innovation.

Standards, being voluntary agreements between stakeholders are a powerful tool to support the up-take of the bio-based economy. In addition to general horizontal standards for bio-based products, CEN is developing standards in the areas of bio-lubricants, bio-polymers, bio-surfactants and bio-solvents. European Standards support existing European legislation and policy objectives regarding the bio-based economy.

A list of available CEN publications in the area of bio-based products (both published and under development) together with references to European Commission mandates, if any, and the name of the responsible technical committee can be found on the CEN website.


CEN Technical Committees

The following pages cover Technical Committees in which standards are being developed that are related to the bio-based economy:

EU policy

The bio-based products market has been identified as a lead market by the European Commission’s Lead Market Initiative. The Lead Market Initiative aims to support the up-take of the sectors indentified with policy instruments such as regulation, public procurements, standardization and other supporting activities, in order to lower barriers to bring these new products onto the market.

Standards are seen as essential elements in aggregating initial demand, in particular for new bio-based products. Standards for bio-based products can help to increase market transparency by providing common reference methods and requirements in order to verify claims about these products (e.g. bio-degradability, bio-based content, recyclability, sustainability). The importance of standards is also highlighted by the European Commission Communication COM (2012)60 on a Bioeconomy for Europe and in the Commission Communication COM (2012)582 on A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economy Recovery, which identifies bio-based products as one of the priority lines in which to focus investments and innovation.


Within the framework of the Lead Market Initiative for bio-based products, the European Commission has identified a lack of European standards for these products, in particular for the determination of bio-based content as well as other product capabilities including functionalities, the evaluation of environmental impact, and a number of other purposes. To address this shortcoming, the Commission has issued several standardisation mandates to CEN. CEN accepted the following Mandates in the area of bio-based products for standardisation work (all are in pdf format):