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Analysis of the implementation and implications of the introduction of state-of-the-art sustainability criteria for biobased products | Nidia Ramirez Contreras

Nidia Ramirez Contreras
Nidia Elizabeth Ramirez Contreras

Field | Discipline



Given the constant growth of the world, it is needed to contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution caused by oil derivatives; this has generated interest in the use of alternative raw materials (bio-based materials) which contribute to sustainability, covering not only environmental issues, but it also allows to focus on social and economic components to satisfy all point of view of the sustainability of a product. The use of biomass to generate value-added products can play an important role in the world's major social issues (food security, social welfare, employment), economic (trade, markets, sales) and environmental (greenhouse, climate change, land use, water, biodiversity). In addition, biomass suppliers need to ensure strict quality management. Biomass quality is very important to ensure conversion process efficiency and thus, the profitability of the whole chain (IEA Bioenergy ExCo: 2015:04, 2015). For this reason, it is important to secure sustainable supply for bio-based good and services, it is critical to diversify and increase the productivity, quality and output of biomass from forest, agricultural and marginal land (including specialized crops) and sea, avoiding the degradation of ecosystems (including soil and water quality and biodiversity aspects) (European Commission, 2016). In this context, it is necessary to enter into the international markets for the commercialization of biomass-based products and one way to do this is through the bioeconomy.

Biomass is not an unlimited resource and measures must be taken to allow the proper use of this from production to final use and to make society less dependent on fossil fuels in the short term (European Commission, 2016). There are some certifications system for biomass products, but not all them have all the focus in the 3 main components (social, economic and environmental), it is even mentioned in the literature that a greater focus on social issues (LUC, Fair wages) and even on environmental issues (greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, water and soil quality) is required, since these do not include an adequate number of indicators that allow a more concise evaluation of these issues. For example, in an overview of 67 ongoing certification initiatives to safeguard the sustainability of bioenergy carried out by Dam et al., 2010, mentioned that concerns in various parts of the world are focused on food security and on the socio-economic impacts of bioenergy production, but these concerns are generally not included in the existing bioenergy initiatives. This increases the need to develop a new standard that encompasses a greater number of issues. It is for this reason that, it is needed to include in a new biomass certification system, the aspects that are key for access to sustainable the criteria and indicators that allow to cover a greater range of evaluation and thus access to sustainable (certified) biomass (European Commission, 2016).

This aim will be addressed by the following sub-questions:

  • How can Colombia become a major producer of sustainable ‘’premium’’ biobased products and energy carriers over time?
  • What technologies, products, bioenergy production, and supply chains are the most promising from economic, environmental point of view and how large is their sustainable market potential?
  • How can the key preconditions to secure sustainable biomass production, avoid indirect land use change and (too strong competition with food supplies), protect biodiversity, water management, and achieve desired positive socio-economic benefits be met over time, in different regions and for different sectors?
  • How does bioenergy fit in the overall development of the energy system of Colombia, what is the expected optimal use of biomass over time and what can be the role of the export markets for biosolids and biofuels?

Supervision by

Contact details:

Energy Academy Europe, Nijeborgh 6, 9747 AG Groningen
Telephone | + 31 (50) 363
E-mail | n.e.ramirez.contreras

Last modified:12 May 2021 10.15 a.m.