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Industry forms consortium to push biobased agenda

By Joe Whitworth , 17-Jan-2013

A number of packaging firms have entered into a consortium aimed at forming a joint public private partnership (PPP) with the European Commission.

Metsä Group and 40 other European companies founded the community – Biobased Industries Consortium – in December to promote the development of the European bioeconomy.

The consortium aims to show the European Commission why there is need and justification for a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) in their area. 

The firms are one of a number of groups competing for a JTI, as bio-based industries is one of the candidates under the Horizon 2020 EU programme.

Horizon 2020, running from 2014 to 2020, is the financial instrument aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness with an €80bn budget.

Innovation partnership

Metsä said the community is seeking an innovation partnership with the European Commission to accelerate commercial application of the latest research results.

The innovation partnership would significantly support the renewal of the Finnish forest industry and strengthen its position in the sustainable bioeconomy of the future, the firm said.

The European Commission held a consultation last year on bio-based industries with a report on the findings still pending.

Mikael Hannus, VP Biorefinery at Stora Enso, told FoodProductionDaily.com: “We see the planned JTI as a positive opportunity to speed up the utilization of both existing and future research results for more biobased products.

Within the JTI the cross-sectorial spectra of companies will join forces in different constellations to pool their brains and resources together,” he added.

“The Horizon 2020 and especially the tighter involvement of industries via the JTI(s) is adding part of the needed support and focus to increase the speed of developing and demonstrating industrial processes for additional biobased products.”

Environmental impact

Metsä added that the objective is to strengthen the competitiveness of European industry and contribute to decreasing Europe’s dependency on imported oil and reducing the environmental impact of industry.

When asked how crucial it is to reduce dependency on imported oil and environmental impact, he said: “Reduced dependency of fossil resources is one part of becoming ever more resource (material and energy) efficient.

“We see this as a priority when engaging in research, development and further via piloting/demonstration to commercial operations. Biomass is too valuable and in the long run too scarce for being used in processes with low yield of inherent material and energy.

Other firms involved include Smurfit Kappa, Unilever, Cargill, UPM, Mondi and Sappi.

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