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The bioeconomy englobes the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into bio-based products and bioenergy.

In 2012, the Commission published the first bio-economy strategy with five main objectives: ensuring food security, managing natural resource sustainably, reducing dependence on non-renewable resources, mitigating and adapting to climate change, creating jobs and maintaining EU competitiveness. An updated bioeconomy strategy has been released in October 2018.

In the framework of the circular economy, the Commission decided to work on a non-binding guidance document on cascading use of woody biomass which has been published in November 2018. The document aims at providing good practices on resource efficiency for wood-working industries across Europe.

For more information on the cascading use principle, consult our dedicated factsheet.

The role of bioenergy

With half a million jobs in the bioenergy sector and 96% of locally sourced biomass in the EU, bioenergy contributes to rural development and reduces the import dependence on non-renewable resources. Representing an innovative solution for the heat, electricity and transport sector, sustainably managed biomass makes an important contribution to the renewable energy objective of the European Union. Bioenergy is thus a main driver of the development of a European bio-economy.

It also provides energy to other sectors further driving the EU bioeconomy, like for example the pulp and paper producers or sawmills.

Our position

Bioenergy represents more than half of Europe’s renewable energy today – mainly from solid, woody biomass. Enacting the cascading principle into legislation could seriously distort the markets and lead to counter-productive situations, as it has been seen in some Member States already. It would also undermine national strategies to replace their fossil energy consumption.

In practice, wood-working industries and bioenergy work very well together. The symbiosis of industrial processes, such as a sawmill or a pulp mill combined with bioenergy production, can increase resource efficiency as residues are used instead of ending up as waste. How this industrial symbiosis exactly looks like depends on the local needs and circumstances and should thus not be influenced by rigid implementation of the cascading principle in legislation.


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