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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Bio-based products

Bio-based products can offer numerous benefits for the economy, society and the environment. They promote sustainable and circular practices and drive innovation to address some of the pressing challenges of our society – including climate mitigation and adaptation, transitioning to a green industry, food supply and security, and human health. Bio-based products enhance the EU’s open strategic autonomy and resilience by reducing dependency on fossil-based resources (crude oil, natural gas, and coal) and other raw materials that are imported to the EU.

What are bio-based products?

Bio-based products are wholly or partly derived from materials of biological origin (such as plants, animals, enzymes, and microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and yeast). They do not include materials that are embedded in geological formations and/or fossilised. From products we use every day to cutting-edge innovations, bio-based products are revolutionising industries and paving the way for a more sustainable economy.

In industrial processes, enzymes are used to produce chemical building blocks, detergents, pulp and paper, textiles, and other products. By using fermentation and bio-catalysis instead of traditional chemical synthesis, higher process efficiency can be obtained. This decreases energy and water consumption, and reduces toxic waste. As they are derived from renewable raw materials such as plants, bio-based products can help reduce CO2 and offer other advantages such as lower toxicity or novel product characteristics (e.g. biodegradable plastic materials).


  • chemicals: bio-based chemicals are used in various industries, such as cosmetics, paints, lubricants, and adhesives. For example, they can be based on lignin (a type of natural polymer found in the cell of terrestrial plants, from 20% to 30% of a tree composition) and serve as phenolic resins for wood products, dispersant and surface-active agent for paints and coatings, or thermoplastic material for composites.
  • construction or packaging materials: insulation material used in construction can be made from agricultural waste and fungi. Microbial cells and enzymes can be used to produce bio-based plastics (biodegradable or not) in packaging, agriculture, and other industries as well as recycle such bio-based polymers. The glamour of biology knows no limits: Eucalyptus cellulose can even be used to produce bio-based and biodegradable glitter.
  • textiles: in recent years, new bio-based polymers produced from wood or algae or by fermentating agricultural and food residues has been used in new sustainable textile fibre production.
  • batteries: some companies are developing batteries made from wood (refined lignin) with a scalable model for commercial production.
  • biocontrol agents: alternative solutions to chemical pesticides in agriculture are provided by biocontrol agents based on fungi, which increase natural plant defences to protect crops.
  • detergents: laundry detergents containing enzymes allow washing clothes at lower temperatures, therefore reducing energy consumption and costs for consumers.
  • inks: inks based on plants, algae or vegetables, such as soy, rice, corn or linseeds can be non-toxic alternatives to fossil-based inks which are easier to recycle.

EU policies related to bio-based products

At European level, policies linked to bio-based products include the following

  • the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and Action Plan aims to shift the European economy towards a greater and more sustainable use of renewable resources. The second pillar of the strategy focuses on the development of markets and competitiveness in bioeconomy sectors (such as the bio-based product sector) by sustainably increasing primary production, conversion of waste streams into value-added products (biorefineries), and mutual learning mechanisms for improved production and resource efficiency.
  • the EU Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative summarises the current challenges and barriers for biotechnology and biomanufacturing and proposes actions to address these challenges in a timely manner. It also explores ways to foster engagement and collaboration, including through international dialogue and cooperation.
  • the European Industrial Strategy aims to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of EU industries, including those involved in producing bio-based products. It includes measures to support innovation, investment, and market uptake of bio-based products.
  • the Circular Economy Action Plan outlines measures to transition to a circular economy, where resources are used more efficiently, products are designed for reuse and recycling, and waste generation is minimized. It includes initiatives to promote bio-based materials and products, as part of efforts to create a more sustainable and circular economy.
  • the Green Deal Industrial Plan enhances the competitiveness of Europe's net-zero industry and accelerates the transition to climate neutrality. The Net-Zero Industry Act aims to scale up the manufacturing of clean technologies in the EU, including biotech climate and energy solutions.
  • the European Critical Raw Materials Act is the basis for building up the EU’s capacities and strengthening the resilience of its critical raw material supply chains.
  • the Fit for 55’ package aims to make all sectors of the EU’s economy fit to reach the net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
  • the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) includes the bioeconomy as one of its specific objectives, promoting employment, growth, social inclusion, and local development in rural areas alongside sustainable forestry.

 Sectoral strategies