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Improved Agro-Based Production

Improving the sustainability and efficiency of agricultural production through new practices, products and materials.
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Securing Sustainable Dendromass Production
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News from this sector
BBI JU celebrates its 100th project

The Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) grant agreements for 18 new projects under the 2018 Call for Proposals are now signed, bringing the total number of BBI JU-funded projects to 100.
Bioeconomy will help to bring jobs to EU's rural areas

A Dutch MEP has said that the bioeconomy will help to bring jobs to depopulated, rural areas in the EU, especially in Eastern Europe, and help to keep the bloc "politically balanced."
BBI JU celebrates its 100th project (10/06/2019)
The Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) grant agreements for 18 new projects under the 2018 Call for Proposals are now signed, bringing the total number of BBI JU-funded projects to 100.
The newly signed projects will tackle a range of different topics from unlocking the potential of biodegradable packaging to using mealworms to produce animal feed.

The new projects grant € 85 944 261 to 224 beneficiaries originating from 27 different countries. They are divided into 9 Research & Innovation Action projects, 3 Coordination and Support Action projects, 5 Demonstration Action projects and one Flagship Action project. The last one is the first BBI JU flagship biorefinery in France, which will produce animal feed from mealworms on an industrial scale.

Announcing the start of these new projects, Philippe Mengal, BBI JU's Executive Director commented: 'All of us in BBI JU, together with our founding partners the European Commission and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC), are excited to see these 18 new projects starting. Once again, these consortia bring together primary production and processing industries, consumer brands, SMEs, research and technology centres and universities, demonstrating BBI JU's ability to connect previously unconnected actors so they can successfully scale up and commercialise bio-based products. Today, as we celebrate 100 projects in our portfolio, we can be very proud of the fact that our projects continue to address key gaps in the deployment of the bio-based industries and are delivering concrete results, bringing the bio-based products closer to EU citizens.'

The BBI JU projects are funded under the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme and bring together researchers from several European centres of excellence - companies, research institutes or universities - to develop new technologies and products, and bring them to maturity or even commercial level. The bio-based sector can work more coherently through measures that bring in feedstock suppliers as partners in the value chains, develop biorefinery technologies and processes, raise business-to-business demand, and promote customer awareness about innovative bio-based products and applications.

New projects:

BIOnTop - Novel packaging films and textiles with tailored end of life and performance based on bio-based copolymers and coatings

B-FERST - Bio-based FERtilising products as the best practice for agricultural management SusTainability


CelluWiz - Process developments for a recyclable and compostable all-cellulose multilayer material for packaging


ECOAT - ECO sustainable multifunctional biobased COATings with enhanced performance and end of life options

FARMYNG - Flagship demonstration of industrial scale production of nutrient Resources from Mealworms to develop a bioeconomY New Generation

GRETE - Green chemicals and technologies for the wood-to-textile value chain

INGREEN - Production of functional innovative ingredients from paper and agro-food side-streams through sustainable and efficient tailor-made biotechnological processes for food, feed, pharma and cosmetics

LIFT - Unleash the potential of CSAs results to contribute to sustainable and competitive Bio-Based Industries in Europe

MANDALA - The transition of MultilAyer/multipolymer packagiNg into more sustainable multilayer/single polymer products for the fooD and phArma sectors through the deveLopment of innovative functional Adhesives

SElectiveLi - Conceptual Study of Electrochemical based novel process using Lignosulfonates to produce bio-based monomers & polymers

SMARTBOX - Selective Modifications of ARomatics through Biocatalytic Oxidations

UrBIOfuture - Boosting future careers, education and research activities in the European bio-based industry

USABLE PACKAGING - Unlocking the potential of Sustainable BiodegradabLe Packaging

VAMOS - Value added materials from organic waste sugars

VEHICLE - Valorise Extensive quantities of HemIcellulosic and Cellulosic sugars from Lignocellulosic biomass into high-value End products

WASEABI - Optimal utilization of seafood side-streams through the design of new holistic process lines

We wish all the latest BBI JU projects the best of luck with their research, and look forward to featuring them on the BioWatch platform!


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Bioeconomy will help to bring jobs to EU's rural areas (13/05/2019)
A Dutch MEP has said that the bioeconomy will help to bring jobs to depopulated, rural areas in the EU, especially in Eastern Europe, and help to keep the bloc "politically balanced."
Lambert van Nistelrooij, a Dutch member of parliament from the centre-right EPP group, gave his views at the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking's (BBI JU) Info Day in April.

Addressing bio-based industry delegates, Van Nistelrooij said the bioeconomy was "extremely important" in keeping Europe balanced, not only in relation to the circular economy but in relation to its "political situation".

He said he was glad that the bioeconomy was being promoted by the EU15 member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK). He also said that member states that joined the EU in 2004 (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia) were also pressing ahead with the bioeconomy.

However, Van Nistelrooij said there was a need for a new economy in rural areas of the EU, especially areas that had been affected by depopulation and where a lot of young people were still based.

He added: "There is also a need to use the potential of agricultural production and forestry. Daily life changes.

"Politically, we need the engagement in Europe, especially in eastern Europe.

"You can see a growth in populism when people say 'Is this the world that was promised to young people when they leave and come back with a big Mercedes and say to their counterparts 'hey loser why don't you go to Germany?''

Elsewhere, earlier in the day, Philippe Mengal, executive director of BBI JU, praised the European Commission's adoption of the bloc's bioeconomy strategy, which was published last year.

It aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.

Mengal said: "The strategy gave a clear signal on the need to scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sector."

Separately, BBI JU has launched its '2019 call for proposals', supporting a variety of topics ranging from resolving end-of-life issues for plastics to producing valuable food and feed compounds from microalgae.

With a total budget of €135 million, the 2019 Call is the sixth in a total of seven for the period between 2017 and 2020 and is built around four strategic orientations: Feedstock, process, products, and market uptake.

In a statement, BBI JU said: "It continues to be based on the acceleration of the development of new sustainable value chains from biomass feedstock supply via efficient processing, to the acceptance and application of bio-based products in the end-markets."


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convert wheat straw waste into green chemicals (11/04/2019)
An EU initiative, OPTISOCHEM has produced renewable bio-isobutene for use in various applications ranging from cosmetics to fuels.
The development of new bio-refining technologies based on agricultural waste is seen as key to reducing Europe's dependency on fossil-based products. According to a White Paper by the International Council on Clean Transportation, about 144 million tonnes of wheat residues accumulate each year in the EU. Supported by the EU-funded OPTISOCHEM project, researchers have made significant progress in transforming this excess material into something more useful: bio-isobutene, or bio-IBN, a key precursor for numerous chemicals.

The project involves several processes such as the conversion of wheat straw into hydrolysate and its fermentation into isobutene. This material is then converted into oligomers and polymers. Project coordinator, Global Bioenergies has stated that "currently underutilized residual wheat straw has been converted at demo scale into second generation renewable bio-isobutene, and will eventually be transformed into oligomers and polymers usable in lubricants, rubbers, cosmetics, solvents, plastics, or fuels applications."

Planned activities
Jean-François Boideau, EMEA Commercial General Manager at project partner INEOS Oligomers, says: "To date, we received several batches of bio-isobutene from Global Bioenergies for qualification purpose(s), and the quality is promising. During the next phase of the project, INEOS is ready to evaluate conversion of additional quantities of bio-isobutene into downstream products in order to assess the potential of this bio-based feedstock as a building block for end consumer applications." Frederic Pâques, COO of Global Bioenergies, adds: "We expect to produce several tons of bio-isobutene on this new non-conventional feedstock in the remaining periods of the project."

For more information, view the OPTISOCHEM SEED


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Foreco Releases New Animated Video (21/03/2019)
Foreco is developing a breakthrough bio-based wood modification product within the
Bio4Products project
'FaunaWood' is modified using a resin formulation from TransFurans Chemicals, based on the sugar fraction supplied by BTG Biomass Technology Group.

Used Faunawood can be an input for the BTG fast pyrolysis process, making it a 100% circular product! Watch the new Foreco video to learn more


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5 Minutes With… Peter Jürgens from REDCert. (21/03/2019)
REDCert was founded in 2010 by leading associations and organisations of the German agricultural and biofuel sectors.
By creating the scheme, the economic groups affected assumed joint responsibility for actively promoting certified sustainability of biofuels and liquid biomass. Today, it has expanded into new markets.

"There is a huge interest in the circular economy at the moment. In relation to the circular economy, the chemicals sector is really pressing ahead with this agenda."

Liz Gyekye (LG), Deputy Editor for Bio Market Insights, catches up with Managing Director, Peter Jürgens (PJ):

LG: What's the story behind REDCert?

PJ: Today, REDCert has more than 1,300 scheme participants from 27 countries, making it one of the leading certification schemes for sustainable biomass, bioliquids and biofuels in Germany and Europe. The European Commission reaccredited the REDcert-EU scheme in August 2017.

In addition to this, since 2015, REDCert2 has also been a certification scheme for sustainable agricultural raw materials which are processed for use as food or animal feed as well as biomass used for material purposes. The REDCert2 scheme is based on the REDcert-EU certification scheme which has successfully been in place for five years and was given a positive rating by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI Gold level). REDCert2 can be used for the different phases of raw materials production and gathering, trade and processing.

In 2018, we entered into a new market looking at material use in the chemicals sector. This took us around two years to develop. In fact, two years ago we got in touch with a big player in the chemicals market who was trying to find a sustainability certification scheme for their business. This included complex production structures and processes. It also included an appropriate approach for biomass balancing.

Subsequently, along with this big player in the chemicals sector and another certification body, we developed a standard for a "biomass balance approach". This approach is where products made from renewable resources exhibit the same performance as their counterparts made from fossil feedstock. Due to the latter, we decided to expand our REDCert2 scheme to the chemicals sector. In doing so, we have incorporated a balancing standard called CMS71 into the REDCert2 scheme.

LG: Before working as managing director of REDCert what did you do?

PJ: I have been working in the area of certification schemes since the mid-90s. As well as taking charge of the REDCert scheme, I am also responsible for a company called ORGAINVENT, which was founded in 1997. The company operates a certification scheme for the origins and traceability of beef. This company was formed in the wake of the BSE scandal. EU legislation was modified in a way that market operators had to label the origin of the beef that they handled and assure traceability for that. They could do this by using a voluntary certification scheme like ORGAINVENT had developed. The experience we gained from here was transferred to the biofuels sector. For instance, having a private company and a scheme operator involved, and helping to manage this scheme gave us a broad knowledge to transfer this on to our REDCert scheme. That's why REDCert is supported by ORGAINVENT.

Elsewhere, I also help to manage SeedGuard - a voluntary system that supports quality assurance within seed treatment sites of the seed industry. The certification system was founded in 2011 by various associations from within the industry. The certification focuses on encouraging the environmentally-friendly and safe treatment of seeds. The criteria and requirements that a certified company must meet are defined by the SeedGuard committee. Recognised and accredited certification bodies are required in order to implement the system.

The push for an improvement in environmental and health safety in the handling of seeds came about in particular in 2008 at the time of the destruction of thousands of bee colonies, which were ruined by certain insecticides.

LG: What's been the biggest challenge in growing REDcert?

PJ: The main challenge was to develop this new standard for our REDCert2 scheme to make it ready for use in the market. We sent out our first certification in December 2018 to BASF. Since then, we have received a couple of queries from industry stakeholders. This shows that we are on the right track. We find that the chemicals sector is moving fast on sustainability certification. There is a huge interest in the circular economy at the moment. In relation to the circular economy, the chemicals sector is really pressing ahead with this agenda. "Chemcycling" is a big key to this, where waste is used as a valued feedstock for the chemicals business. Therefore, there is a big focus on using renewables instead of fossil sources and using recycled material instead of virgin fossil material.

The feedstocks used for biochemicals are more or less the same like fossil fuel-based chemicals. For instance, take bio-methane instead of natural gas. The beginning of the chain is always the same.

LG: What's coming up next for your company?

PJ: First, the expansion of the material use area within the chemicals sector. Second, preparing the REDCert scheme for part two of the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001.

LG: What advice would you give to someone else looking to launch their own company/product in this space?

PJ: They should assess what is already happening in this space. They should also assess what their prime purpose is. Is it to gain sustainability certification just for marketing purposes? Is it just to comply with legal obligations or is it customer needs? Before looking at certifications, one should find out what one's main aims are.

LG: What's your favourite sustainable/bio-based product?

PJ: Each product is my favourite if it can demonstrate a positive impact on the climate or resource savings. For example, renewable products or recycling products. Essentially, we need a variety of solutions to solve climate change not just one.


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Researchers find new ways to engineer plants (21/03/2019)
Scientists have found new ways of using tiny particles of carbon to speed up the process of genetically modifying plants.
The researchers from the US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used nanoparticles to deliver genes into the chloroplasts of plant cells and worked with many different plant species including spinach and other vegetables.

This technique can be used for rapid screening of candidate genes for chloroplast expression in a wide variety of crop plants.

The researchers grafted genes on to carbon nanotubes, microscopic cylindrical structures, and then showed that they easily inserted themselves into the nucleus of plant cells, where the plant then decoded the DNA instructions.

For the study, published in the recent journal of Nature Nanotechnology, the team of researchers injected carbon particles coated in a gene for fluorescence into the leaves of supermarket spinach. They also showed that the nanotubes could slip through the cell walls of a variety of other plants.

This means that they could not only be used to deliver individual genes, but also carry the instructions to fundamentally edit the DNA of the plant itself.

According to the MIT researchers, this is an easier way to engineer plants. The traditional process is usually complex and time-consuming. It is also a process that has to be customised to the specific plant species that is being altered, according to the MIT researchers.

This is a universal mechanism that works across plant species, said Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, speaking about the new process.

This is an important first step toward chloroplast transformation, Chua said. This technique can be used for rapid screening of candidate genes for chloroplast expression in a wide variety of crop plants.

The researchers hope that this new tool will allow plant biologists to more easily engineer a variety of desirable traits into vegetables and crops. For example, agricultural researchers in Singapore and elsewhere are interested in creating leafy vegetables and crops that can grow at higher densities, for urban farming.

Other possibilities include creating drought-resistant crops, engineering crops such as bananas, citrus, and coffee to be resistant to fungal infections that threaten to wipe them out, and modifying rice so that it does not take up arsenic from groundwater.

According to the US-based scientists, because the engineered genes are carried only in the chloroplasts, which are inherited maternally, they can be passed to offspring but cant be transferred to other plant species.

Thats a big advantage, because if the pollen has a genetic modification, it can spread to weeds and you can make weeds that are resistant to herbicides and pesticides. Because the chloroplast is passed on maternally, its not passed through the pollen and theres a higher level of gene containment, MIT graduate student Tedrick Thomas Salim Lew said.


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