Bio-based products 

The term bio-based product refers to products wholly or partly derived from biomass, such as plants, trees or animals (the biomass can have undergone physical, chemical or biological treatment). 

It is important to understand the meaning of the term bio-based product and how it is being used. A standard defining general terms to be used in the field of bio-based products, EN 16575, was published by CEN in August 2014.

Some of the reasons of the increasing interest in bio-based products lay in their benefits in relation to depletion of resources and climate change. Bio-based products could provide additional product functionalities, less resource intensive production and efficient use of all natural resources.

Nevertheless, companies, governments and consumers are confronted with numerous uncertainties. These may limit new products and technologies from growing into full-scale commercial applications. In this context, European Standards have been identified as essential elements in aggregating demand of existing and new bio-based products.

News and events

No current news.

Technical bodies and activities

CEN is developing European Standards and other deliverables (Technical Reports and Specifications) covering horizontal aspects of bio-based products as well as standards for specific bio-based product groups such as bio- based lubricants, polymers, surfactants and solvents. Recently, CEN has also started to work on standards and other deliverables on algae and algae products.

The CEN Technical Committees developing standards in the area of bio-based products are:


Sector Forum

A Sector Forum is a platform aiming at facilitating the exchange of information between the different stakeholders, coordinating and identifying the standardization needs in a specific standardization field.
There is no Sector Forum in the field of bio-based products.

European legislation and mandates

European Standards support existing European legislation and policy objectives regarding the bio-based economy.
EU policy
The bio-based products market was identified as a lead market by the European Commission's Lead Market Initiative. The Lead Market Initiative aimed to support the up-take of a series of specific sectors  by using policy instruments such as regulation, public procurements, standardization and other supporting activities, in order to lower barriers to bring these new products into the market.
Standards are seen as essential elements in aggregating initial demand, in particular for new bio-based products. Standards for bio-based products can help to increase market transparency by providing common reference methods and requirements in order to verify claims about these products (e.g. bio-degradability, bio-based content, recyclability, sustainability). The importance of standards is also highlighted by the European Commission Communication COM (2012) 60 on a Bioeconomy for Europe (pdf format) and in the Commission Communication COM (2012) 582 on A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economy Recovery (pdf format), which identifies bio-based products as one of the priority lines in which to focus investments and innovation.

Within the framework of the Lead Market Initiative for bio-based products, the European Commission identified a lack of European standards for these products, in particular for the determination of bio-based content as well as other product capabilities including functionalities, the evaluation of environmental impact, and a number of other purposes. To address this shortcoming, the Commission issued several standardization mandates to CEN.
More recently, the European Commission has addressed a Mandate to CEN in relation to algae and algae-based products or intermediates. CEN created a new working group, CEN/BT/WG 218 in 2015 in order to analyse existing standards and their applicability to algae, identify any standardization gaps and develop a work programme in response to the Mandate. BT/WG 218 finalised a report summarising all its findings in February 2017. The recommendations of the report have also led to the creation of a new CEN Technical Committee on algae, CEN/TC 454.
CEN is currently developing standards under the following Mandates in the area of bio-based products (all are in pdf format):
  • M/430 on bio-polymers and bio-lubricants
  • M/491 on bio-solvents and bio-surfactants
  • M/492 for the development of horizontal standards for bio-based products
  • M/547 on algae and algae-based products or intermediates

Useful links and documents