The EU Green Week is one of the leading European events dedicated to environmental policy, which occurs yearly. In 2021, the priority was given to “Zero pollution for healthier people and planet. In that context, from May 31 to June 4, 2021, various virtual events – including the Opening Event in Lahti (Finland), four days of conferences and several virtual stands hosted by prestigious groups and institutions – were organised. The following article describes how the NENU2PHAR project and its associated public-private partnership, the BBI-JU program, contribute to Zero Pollution Ambitions.
The European Green Week initiative
This year, the European Green week focused on the ‘zero pollution ambition’. It was articulated around the EU Action Plan toward a Zero Pollution Ambition. Other relevant European Green Deal initiatives were also discussed, such as climate initiatives, the upcoming Chemicals Strategy, as well as initiatives in the fields of energy, industry, mobility, agriculture, fisheries, health and biodiversity. During the whole week, discussions focused on the role of EU policies in moving towards a toxic-free environment across the EU while creating jobs and sustainable growth. Topics such as better monitoring and reporting, prevention and remediation of pollution from the air, water, soil, and consumer products were raised.
NENU2PHAR’s contribution to the reduction of plastic pollution generation
With the Climate objectives of the Paris Agreement, it has become clear how necessary it is to close the loop of the circular economy for the plastics industry responsible for massive pollution in the environment. To this end, the European Bioeconomy sector is creating new sustainable value chains, supporting the development of greener & more cost-effective plastics. It is also crucial to address the many challenges relating to littering and the end-of-life options for plastic waste – particularly packaging waste.
To this end, NENU2PHAR partners will develop, all together, an original route to produce PHAs (Polyhydroxyalkanoates) from sustainable and renewable resources: micro-algae biomass using CO2 as carbon source and processed by selected bacterial strains. This concept is in line with the “EU Action Plan toward a Zero Pollution Ambition“. PHA plastics have been identified as attractive biodegradable polymers compared to other plastics & bioplastics because they avoid marine pollution by not releasing toxic microplastics into the environment. Our partner, UBS-IRDL, will confirm the biodegradability of PHA-based materials in both freshwater and seawater through various assessments to ensure a sustainable end-of-life scenario.
NENU2PHAR development will increase the environmental sustainability of PHA-based end-products. Indeed, partners will explore several end-of-life solutions to avoid plastic waste & pollution; PHA-based polymers will be developed with re-manufacturing in mind. When re-manufacturing is not possible, materials will lend themselves to biodegradation and/or composting, reducing plastic waste. Then NENU2PHAR’s plastic end-products will improve the recycling rate up to 100% by addressing the concept of multi-layered mono-material films. To validate the environmental safety of the NENU2PHARs’ end-product, the partners will analyse the various end-of-life scenarios by conducting their respective environmental footprint studies.
The future of bio-based industries and the ambition for a zero pollution and toxic-free environment
Following the significant impact of the current BBI-JU, its founding partners, the EU and the Bio-based Industry Consortium (BIC), have developed an even more ambitious plan: the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU). This new partnership will foster collaboration between the scientific community and industry for 2021-207 and contribute to the EU’s climate objectives in line with the European Green Pact.
The CBE-JU, which builds on the milestones of the BBI-JU, will aim to actively support the deployment of biorefineries in Europe and reinforce its environmental protection objectives, including biodiversity. To fulfil that ambition, the program will continue to involve all stakeholders, notably primary producers and strengthen its demands towards future projects to define and implement relevant environmental and socioeconomic indicators.
More information about the Zero pollution action plan: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/zero-pollution-action-plan_en
Take a watch at “The 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkOaRmWi0Cg