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26 Apr 2011 10:04:41

NNFCC conference opens bio-based debate

The NNFCC Linking Bio-Based Materials to Renewable Energy Production conference, held on the 1st March, highlighted the importance of developing a standards-led market for renewable materials.

The morning session focused on the technical aspects of measuring renewable or bio-based content.

Ben Sheridan of the British Standards Institute emphasised the need to create a strong market for bio-based materials by developing a robust standard for verifying bio-based claims, assessing sustainability and labeling.

The BSI also announced the creation of a new UK standards committee on bio-based products, which will be chaired by the NNFCC and look at the technical aspects of developing a bio-based standard.

One possible method is measuring carbon 14, a technique based on carbon dating. Carbon dating has been used in archaeology for decades and Alex Shroff of BETA Analytical showcased the simplicity of the technique for determining bio-based content.

Discussion in the afternoon moved from the lab to the end-user, and explored how we can best demonstrate the benefits of using bio-based materials to manufacturers, consumers and even renewable energy producers.

Chairman of the European Bioplastics Association, Andy Sweetman from Innovia Films, highlighted the importance of correctly marketing bioplastics and the necessity for simple and transparent labeling. This he suggested would boost sales and increase end-of-life options.

Chris Manson-Whitton of Progressive Energy, also urged industry and policy makers to work together and develop robust rules for measuring the amount of renewable carbon in materials, and suggested this was vital to the future of making energy from waste, which often contains a high proportion of bio-based material.

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