By Dr. Jelena Barbir (HAW Hamburg, Germany)
In June 2022, BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE organized a workshop with 10 Horizon Europe projects and 9 EU policy officers in the field of bio-based and biodegradable plastics to discuss policy recommendations. From the results of this workshop, a shared online document was produced posing and answering important policy and research questions from the projects as well as the policy officers. Simultaneously in June, the Glaukos project, which is developing biobased textile fibres and textile coatings, organized the Glaukos Stakeholder Lab workshop “Tackling microplastics pollution: can biodegradable textile and coating be a solution?”.
The BPE team and the team from the Glaukos project met through those workshops and a collaboration between the two projects was established, leading to the organisation of one workshop followed by an online event on policy. The first workshop took place online on 3rd November under the title, “Unlock the potential of bio-based and biodegradable plastics: challenges to be addressed”. After a short introduction of the Glaukos and BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE projects, a discussion round with 4 topics with 4 questions each was opened, to collect the participants’ inputs on relevant bio-based plastics and policy topics. The main topics were LCA of bio-based vs conventional plastics, end-of-life options, raising awareness, stakeholder engagement, collaboration and coordination and projects’ contribution to EU policies. In total, over 70 participants took part in the workshop, representing 49 relevant EU projects.
The results from the workshop have been further used a as a basis for an open discussion with the EU policy officers who joined for the upcoming 7th EBRN online event on 23rd November, attended by more than 50 participants, 12 of which were EU policy officers. The four topics covered were LCA of bio-based vs conventional plastics, End-Of-Life Options Raising Awareness and Stakeholder Engagement and Projects contributions to EU Policies.
The workshop sparked some lively discussions between policy officers and projects on how to shorten the gap between projects and policies and how to increase opportunities for mutual learning and exchange. The policy officers expressed a general need for clear scientific facts to form based policy decisions. The need for a mutual language was expressed by both sides.
Overall, the workshop proved to be a starting point for continued collaboration for projects and policy officers to optimize policy recommendations in the field of bio-based and biodegradable plastics. Also, the collaboration between BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE and GLAUKOS strengthened the joint goal to facilitate communication between research and policy. The next policy workshop in collaboration between the two projects is planned for June 2023.