Bio-based products are products which are entirely or partly derived from plants. They span a wide range of materials and products including organic chemicals such as amino acids and enzymes; natural-fibre based composite materials and textiles; lubricants, paints, surfactants and solvents; polymers and plastics as well as cosmetics.
An environmental benefit of bio-based feedstock, compared to fossil-based resources, is that biomass provides a renewable source of raw materials and energy. The energy used during the manufacture of bio-based products tends to be lower than that for energy-intensive petroleum-derived feedstocks.
However, indirect land use change and water use during the farming of biomass crops are sustainability concerns that need to be considered by manufacturers of bio-based products.
Now estimated around $2.6 billion, the bio-based industry is growing by approximately 15 percent annually and the increased use of bio-based materials, such as packaging made from bio-plastics, is a significant component of the sustainability strategies of some large companies.
Under the Lead Market Initiative for bio-based products, the European Standards Institute CEN has been commissioned to develop standards addressing a range of cross-cutting issues including terminology, certification tools, bio-based content and sustainability criteria for biomass feedstocks and final products.