What are the regulatory gaps and opportunities for a circular bioeconomy in the three pilot areas?

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The Biocircularcities partners have completed one more step towards their objective of providing policy recommendations for implementing a circular bioeconomy in the three pilot territories. They have thoroughly analysed  the previsously selected circular bioeconomy regulatory framework  and identified drivers and barriers that favour or hinder the transition to a more biocircular system for biowaste management.

The results of this analysis are presented in the report “Regulatory gap and opportunity analysis for a circular bioeconomy”, which is now available for download!

The report highlights that at the European level, support is mainly given to biorefineries that process secondary raw materials into a range of marketable bio-based products, including biochemicals, bioplastics, (novel) food and feed, and bioenergy. This approach also applies to the selected streams of the BCC pilot territories (i.e., forestry residues for Pazardzhik Province, organic waste from the agro-industrial sector for the Metropolitan City of Naples and municipal biowaste for the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona).

Key drivers

Among the most important drivers, partners identified:

  • Legal/Administrative: Strong EU policies with binding targets for Member States on municipal solid waste (incl. biowaste) include limiting landfilling, preparing for re-use and recycling targets, and introducing mandatory separate collection systems for biowaste. Equally important are legal incentives for new bio -based products.
  • Technical: Door-to-door collection and smart bin collection systems to improve the quality and quantity of municipal biowaste in order to use biowaste as feedstock for bio-based products; best available techniques (BAT) implementation; construction of decentralised valorisation plants (e.g., micro-scale anaerobic digestion or community composting); and conversion of MBT plants treating residual waste into composting or anaerobic digestion plants for source separated biowaste.
  • Economic: Taxes and bans on landfilling and incineration; reduction of waste charges/fees and pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) schemes to encourage separate collection of biowaste; specific and differentiated waste fees covering all waste management costs; taxes on fossil fuels to allow fair competition with bio -based products; EU funding for using BAT; and sustainable public procurement of biobased products.
  • Environmental: (Food) waste prevention measures; biowaste valorisation schemes instead of landfilling and incineration; decoupling products from fossil resources; using biowaste instead of primary biomass.
  • Social: Communication campaigns to raise social awareness on the positive effects of the CBE in relation to food waste prevention, biowaste separate collection and bio-based products.
  • Stakeholder Involvement: Involve stakeholders with different knowledge and interests to facilitate exchange and cooperation and find sustainable CBE solutions tailored to the local context.

Key barriers

Among the most important barriers, partners identified:

  • Legal/Administrative: Lack of binding targets and consequences for non-compliance with targets and measures; lack of a clear definition between “end of waste” and “by-products”; lengthy and cumbersome authorisation procedures.
  • Economic: Too high investments for the implementation of innovative infrastructures and lack of planning security for long-term investments; large disparity between the current high costs for collecting and valorising biowaste compared to the revenues from the sale of bio-based products (unstable market demand).
  • Technical: Lengthy and cumbersome permits for new biorefineries and organic waste treatment plants; lack of biowaste collection and treatment infrastructure; limited implementation of BAT and feedstock availability.
  • Environment/Health: Lack of comprehensive environmental and health risk analyses to assess the performance of innovative biowaste collection systems and recovery technologies for the use of biowaste as feedstock for the production of new bio-based products.
  • Social: Lack of knowledge and/or will for (food) waste prevention and separate collection; reluctance of using products made from biowaste.
  • Stakeholder Involvement: Lack of best-practice exchange.

Read more on the key drivers and barriers for a circular bioeconomy in the report “Regulatory gap and opportunity analysis for a circular bioeconomy” and its summary!