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Europe explores creation of Bio-based products standards

It will be a very busy next three weeks as I finish the March Tecnon OrbiChem Bio-Materials newsletter, attend NPE Plastics Tradeshow in Florida, celebrate my birthday in between travels, and then attend the Plant-Based Summit in France. Wish me luck!

Blog posts might be scarce so I’ll put this one out now about Europe exploring the possibility of creating a bio-based products standards like the USDA’s BioPreferred program.

According to Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, the group is helping investigate the creation of standards for biobased products as part of the multi-year Open-Bio project commissioned by the EU. Clearer and well- defined standards will reportedly help remove barriers to the introduction of bio-based products on the market. Various knowledge and research institutes are collaborating on the project including ECN, FBR and LEI in the Netherlands, CNRS in France, the Nova-Institut in Germany and the universities of Athens, Berlin and York.

A large number of businesses inside and outside Europe are also involved. The aim is to achieve worldwide harmonisation of testing methods through organising various workshops in the next few years. In the Open-Bio project, Wageningen UR is researching obstacles with regard to product functionality; methods to determine bio-based content and biodegradability; recycling techniques; communication and labelling of bio-based products; and acceptance factors for consumers, the public sector and businesses.

One problem with bio-based products adoption, according to the research institute, are misconceptions and invalid assumptions when it comes to using “bio” definitions such as the biodegradability or compostability of a packaging. Businesses such as recycling industries are refusing to accept bio-based products because they do not know exactly where they stand and are afraid that bio-based products will undermine the quality of their recycling stream. Wageningen UR will aim to explore what happens to bio-based or compostable packaging when it ends up in a sorting system. It will also work on improving testing methods for determination of biodegradability.

Communication on the properties and applications of bio-based products is reportedly another crucial spearhead. The aim is to develop guidelines for labeling bio-based products and for information accompanying these products. With the development of clear standards, Wageningen UR hopes to improved recognizability of bio-based products.

Speaking of USDA’s BioPreferred program, Acme-Hardesty, a US-based renewable chemicals distributor, noted to me that it is now carrying around 20 products that has USDA Certified Biobased Product label.

The USDA BioPreferred® program was developed to increase the purchase and use of biobased products by federal agencies. Under the definition of the new Farm Bill, biobased products include finished or intermediate materials composed in whole or in a significant part of agricultural, forestry or marine ingredients.

Products that meet the criteria for this federally managed preferred procurement initiative are allowed to carry the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label. This label verifies that a product’s amount of renewable, biobased ingredients meets or exceeds levels set by the USDA. All biobased amount claims are verified by independent labs and monitored by the USDA.

The following are Acme-Hardesty’s products certified with the USDA Biobased Label:

• 12-Hydroxy Stearic Acid with 98% biobased content
• AHCOHOL 1698 (Cetyl Alcohol NF) with 98% biobased content
• All grades of No. 1 Castor Oil, USP Castor Oil, and Pale Pressed Castor Oil with 98% biobased content
• All grades of biobased Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) with 99% biobased content
• Coconut Fatty Acid with 99% biobased content
• Glycerine 99.7% with 99% biobased content
• Hydrogenated Castor Oil with 98% biobased content
• Lauric Acid (C12) with 98% biobased content
• Oleic Acid with 99% biobased content
• Palmitic Acid with 99% biobased content
• Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) 90% Needles with 99% biobased content
• Triple Pressed Stearic Acid with 98% biobased content

In another news, Acme-Hardesty also noted that it has achieved RSPO Mass Balance Supply Chain Certification, guaranteeing that all Acme-Hardesty U.S.-based facilities have met the criteria required by RSPO for processing sustainable palm oil and derivatives.

Until recently, consumers had no way of verifying that the palm oil in a product was produced responsibly. The RSPO Mass Balance Supply Chain Certification addresses this issue by reducing the risk of non-sustainable palm oil use by consumers while further driving the mainstream trade of sustainable palm oil, according to the company.

Acme-Hardesty’s RSPO certification will enable its customers — particularly those in the chemical, cleaning, personal care, food processing and nutraceuticals industries — to carry a seal of approval on products made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), verifying that the palm oil used is sustainable and traceable through standards met by each facility in the supply chain.

There has been some turmoil within the sustainability palm oil certification market as the Malaysian and Indonesian governments would rather implement their own sustainability certifications apart from the RSPO organization. However, updates on this topic needs to be explored in another post…

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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