Sustainability standards needed to address biomaterials concerns

24 April 2013 00:04  [Source: ICIS news]

CHICAGO (ICIS)--The US needs sustainability standards in its biomaterials and biofuels industries, a federal official said on Tuesday.

“No type of biomass, biofuels, bioproducts or biomaterials is ‘sustainable’ by category,” said Barbara Bramble, senior advisor for international climate and energy programme at the National Wildlife Federation.

“Most impacts depend on where and under what conditions the materials are made, and performance-based standards and criteria are needed,” she said at the Bio International Convention.

Bramble said there has been a lot of concerns in the biofuels industry, but those issues have always been around.

“All of the bio-based chemicals, not just biofuels, face some very similar issues because the feedstocks are still the same,” she said.

“They actually do have to prove that they fit in with food, feed, fibre and [first-generation fuel] that the industry has been using all this time,” she added.

Those concerns include land-use pressure and the “impossible global Rubik’s cube” of issues such as agricultural expansion for exports, deforestation resulting in high greenhouse gas emissions, population growth and climate change

“The point is, the new kids on the block are going to get the scrutiny, and it’s unfair,” Bramble said.

She added that the industry is trying to address issues with the creation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has been created to bring farmers, companies, governments and non-governmental organizations.

The Bio International Convention runs through Wednesday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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