New STAR-ProBio publication “Metrics for quantifying the circularity of bioplastics: The case of bio-based and biodegradable mulch films”

Francesco Razza, Cristiana Briani, Tony BretonDiego Marazza


The concept of circularity and its quantification through the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) is well established for traditional plastic products. In this paper a methodological approach for calculating the circularity of bio-based and biodegradable (BB) products is proposed and applied to BB mulch films. BB products are different from traditional products in as much as they are sourced and regenerated (recycled) not through technical cycles but the biological loop. The suggested method is an adaptation of the MCI where two major changes were made: (i) the mass of the bio-based component corresponds to the recycled material in input and (ii) the mass of the bio-based component leaving the system through composting or biodegradation in soil is accounted as recycled. The modified MCI supports the eco-design of innovative BB products and allows for the comparison of their circularity taking into account the biological source and the expected end of life process such as biodegradation. To demonstrate the adaptation, the method has been applied to BB mulch films. Results showed that the MCI of a biodegradable mulch film, characterized by an average bio-based feedstock content of 30% is 0.37 ± 0.04 in a 0–1 scale. For BB mulch film, the amount of bio-based feedstock is the most sensitive factor and controls linearly the value of the MCI.

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New STAR-ProBio book “Transition Towards a Sustainable Biobased Economy” (RSC Publishing)

James Clark and Piergiuseppe Morone


About this book

Globally we are being confronted by the depletion of many natural resources as a result of unsustainable use and increasing global population. Although the debate on the bioeconomy has gained momentum in recent decades, the interest in certifications and standards for biobased products is still weak. This book aims to fill this gap by promoting a holistic approach, which covers environmental, social and economic sustainability aspects and pushes forward the development of a circular, biobased economy.

This book promotes the development of sustainability schemes (including standards, labels and certifications) for the assessment of biobased products, which are fundamental to the establishment of a cutting-edge sustainable bioeconomy. Chemical-related, globally relevant case studies are used throughout the book. The content covers a range of issues from upstream and downstream environmental, techno-economic and social assessment, to crosscutting issues such as indirect land use change (iLUC) and end-of-life options. The chapters included in this book will provide a comprehensive review of recent works on life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing (LCC) and social life cycle assessment (s-LCA) methodologies.

An important resource for researchers, industrial professionals and policy makers involved in the bioeconomy.

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New STAR-ProBio open access publication from TUB in “Sustainability” (Special Issue “Sustainability and Standardization”)

Bio-Based Products in the Automotive Industry: The Need for Ecolabels, Standards, and Regulations

Simone Wurster, Luana Ladu


At the Hanover Fair in April 2018, the Bioconcept-Car was presented as a model for the future of sustainable mobility. Likewise, a car made of cellulose nanofiber was presented at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019. Various additional automotive applications for bio-based materials have been developed, some of which are already in use in cars. However, supportive measures for stimulating their market acceptance are needed. Based on a mix of research methods, this article describes how ecolabels, sustainability standards, and regulations might support the market uptake of bio-based car components. In addition, comparison with three other types of bio-based products are provided. The article ends with suggestions for future market development activities.

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New STAR-ProBio open access publication “Effect of Bio-Based Products on Waste Management”

Irena Wojnowska-Baryła, Dorota Kulikowska, Katarzyna Bernat


This article focuses on the end-of-life management of bio-based products by recycling, which reduces landfilling. Bio-plastics are very important materials, due to their widespread use in various fields. The advantage of these products is that they primarily use renewable materials. At its end-of-life, a bio-based product is disposed of and becomes post-consumer waste. Correctly designing waste management systems for bio-based products is important for both the environment and utilization of these wastes as resources in a circular economy. Bioplastics are suitable for reuse, mechanical recycling, organic recycling, and energy recovery. The volume of bio-based waste produced today can be recycled alongside conventional wastes. Furthermore, using biodegradable and compostable bio-based products strengthens industrial composting (organic recycling) as a waste management option. If bio-based products can no longer be reused or recycled, it is possible to use them to produce bio-energy. For future effective management of bio-based waste, it should be determined how these products are currently being managed. Methods for valorizing bio-based products should be developed. Technologies could be introduced in conjunction with existing composting and anaerobic digestion infrastructure as parts of biorefineries. One option worth considering would be separating bio-based products from plastic waste, to maintain the effectiveness of chemical recycling of plastic waste. Composting bio-based products with biowaste is another option for organic recycling. For this option to be viable, the conditions which allow safe compost to be produced need to be determined and compost should lose its waste status in order to promote bio-based organic recycling.

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New STAR-ProBio publication “Life cycle assessment of autochthonous varieties of wheat and artisanal bread production in Galicia, Spain”

Câmara Salim, I.; Almeida-García, F.; González-García, S.; Romero-Rodríguez, A.; Ruíz-Nogueiras, B.; Pereira-Lorenzo, S.; Feijoo, G.; and Moreira, M.T.


For millennia, bread and wheat have been one of the most important sources of nutrients in many civilizations. Today, mechanization and evolution in agriculture and food processing have intensified yields and modified the biological and nutritional aspects of multiple crops and foods. The Galician bread is a reference value of food heritage in Spain, which is made from common wheat grain and is a mixture of indigenous Galician wheat and conventional Spanish wheat. In the pursuit of product excellence, it is interesting to identify the environmental profile as support criteria in decision-making, not only to analyse product environmental sustainability, but also as a marketing element to improve consumer awareness.

The paper has a twofold perspective to analyse the environmental burdens of wheat cultivation and the bread sector, using life cycle assessment approach: 1) the comparison of the different types of agricultural systems, i.e. the cultivation of Galician wheat following a strategy of monoculture and crop rotation, certified Galician seed production and its comparison with conventional wheat cultivation and 2) the environmental profile of Galician bread. The functional units chosen were 1 kg of wheat grain transported to the milling facility and 1 kg of Galician bread.

The results show that wheat cultivation presents the main environmental impacts of bread production, mainly due to the use of agrochemicals and field emissions. The best cultivation scenario corresponds to a crop rotation system, since chemical fertilisation is not applied. In comparative terms with many staple foods produced in Europe, Galician bread has a low environmental impact. The overall environmental results of bread production draw attention to the dependence of bread and flour manufacturers on the agricultural sector, highlighting the need to share responsibilities across the supply chain. In addition, this study contributes to the stakeholder debate on environmental impacts related to food heritage.


New Gold Open Access Paper by UWM – Journal of Cleaner Production

Environmental external cost of poplar wood chips sustainable production

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New Gold Open Access STAR-ProBio Publication

Hybridised sustainability metrics for use in life cycle assessment of bio-based products: resource efficiency and circularity



The development, implementation and social acceptance of resource efficient, circular, bio-based economies require critical understanding of the whole supply chain from feedstock to end-use. Trust, transparency and traceability will be paramount. Though life cycle assessment (LCA) is a universally chosen approach to fulfil this purpose, the nature of data required and the depth of analysis lead to complex interpretations of the findings. Herein, a new set of hybridised, first-line sustainability indicators, drawn from the principles of green chemistry and resource (material and energy) circularity, are reported. These flexible, potentially stand-alone metrics are demonstrated via application to an exemplary comparative LCA, incorporating the hybridised indicators including hazardous chemical use, waste generated, resource circularity and energy efficiency, from the “gate-to-gate” stages for the bio-based case studies and their petro-derived commercial counterparts. These metrics were observed to quantify critical new information relevant to our transition to a circular economy, bridging significant gaps in contemporary environmental impact assessment methodologies. Appropriate additional evaluations that examine the performance of metrics, when the embedded resource efficiency and circularity strategies are omitted, have also been undertaken and reported. The data drawn from employing these methods are crucial to inform and encourage operational optimisation, transparency in sustainability reporting and practices to a significant number of value-chain actors including manufacturers, policy makers and consumers.

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