Unique virtual gathering
Online, EUBP welcomed over 350 participants from 36 countries. During four exciting days, stakeholders from across the bioplastics value chain, including political decision makers, producers, brands, academia, and NGOs, discussed what is moving the industry.
In his opening speech, François de Bie, chairman of European Bioplastics (EUBP), set the scene by emphasising the important role of bio-based and compostable plastics in the European Union’s efforts to achieve a green circular economy. “Many of the European Commission’s Green Deal initiatives touch upon plastics. Our industry provides important solutions that help to achieve a circular economy in Europe,” said de Bie. Stefan Haas, CEO of TÜV AUSTRIA, the main sponsor of this years’ conference, congratulated EUBP on its 15th edition and dedicated his welcome address to the importance of safety standards: “Safety and security are strongly connected with sustainability. There will be no safe and secure world in the future if we don’t take care of sustainability.”
European policyDuring the subsequent policy session, experts from the European Parliament, European Commission, and the private sector discussed the role of bioplastics in the European Union’s process towards a circular economy. “Bioplastics can play a crucial role in delivering innovation, and we have to create a stable market for them,” said MEP Maria Spyraki. A clear legal framework was seen as paramount by the panellists to ensure reliability in decision-making, not only for the bioplastics industry but for the whole bioeconomy. There was also general agreement that a real system change towards a circular economy would require the involvement of everyone along the supply chain. Consumers were identified as an important driver of change. The need for sufficient and efficient research funding was another important finding, which was also an integral topic in many other conference sessions. “We need more research funding, and we have to streamline this investment for innovation to achieve a circular economy,” said Spyraki.
Further panel discussions showed that the industry has made strong progress in explaining the appropriate end-of-life options for the treatment of bioplastic products. Composting and mechanical or chemical recycling are understood as complementary solutions, depending on the respective application. The new EUBP market data confirmed that the bioplastics industry successfully weathered the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. With a predicted growth rate of 36 percent over the next 5 years, bioplastics continue to become mainstream. The vivid discussions around life cycle assessment emphasised the complexity of the field as well as the challenge of communicating the many different value propositions of bioplastics.