Forestry Speed Dating: High-performance wooden building materials

EFI Bioregions Facility is continuing its virtual Forestry Speed Dating series on Bio-based solutions for sustainable construction. During the second event of this series, taking place on 22 September 2022, two companies will show their sustainable innovations for high-performance wooden building materials. After the presentations in plenary, attendees can connect and seek for collaborations with the presenters and fellow attendees in breakout rooms.


Innovative insulation panel products – By Juan Albiñana, Chief Innovation Officer at Garnica
Garnica is a world leader in the plywood industry. They work continuously to develop new products, combining different species of wood with new materials, always with the aim of proposing solutions to market needs. A recent product that will be presented is G-brick, a structural insulating panel with high mechanical performance recommended as a construction system in passive or high energy efficiency projects.

Thermo Mechanical Timber Modification machines that turn lower value wood sources into higher value building materials – By Matthias Gelber, Brand Ambassador at Avant Wood
Avant Wood Finland will share the use case of the multi-award-winning Loeley project in Finland which is 7 years old and where outdoor cladding, decking and interior furniture like tables and doors were all made from low-value “trashwood”. For the interior, birch plywood core waste was the raw material and for the outside, small diameter pine thinnings were used. Both raw materials are only considered good enough for thermal use as wood pellets or for pulp/paper but not for highly durable and long-lasting carbon sink furniture or building materials. The presentation will outline how the wood was modified to provide high-value durable end products and what the underlying features of the Avant Wood TMTM (Thermo Mechanical Timber Modification) process are.

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Guidelines on the promotion of green jobs in forestry

This publication is intended to assist stakeholders in the forestry sector to successfully navigate the transition to a forest sector that is fully engaged in the green economy. New and increasing opportunities for providing forest-based services and products, growing business and revenue as well as creating jobs arise from this transition. Application of the guidelines will assist in ensuring that the forestry workforce is fit for purpose and forestry is able to attract workers in the 21st century’s labour markets. 

EU Bioeconomy progress report

The report outlines the state of play of the European Bioeconomy and assess the progress in the implementation of the 2018 EU Bioeconomy Strategy and its Action Plan. Identifies the gaps and future opportunities of the bioeconomy policy, in light of recent policy developments under the European Green Deal.

Renewable source, high performance: why brands should switch to bio-based plastics

A great deal is required of today’s packaging materials. Brands are expected to be on top of things, choosing packaging with many factors – safety, recyclability, functionality, and product appeal – in mind. Furthermore, choosing the right packaging can be an important aspect of a brand’s marketing strategy. So, what’s in it for brands and the packaging industry if they decided to switch bio-based plastics like PEF?

Sustainability is one of the most cited factors in defence of changing to bioplastics. The good new is, it is not the only one. In this article, we take a look at four major advantages of switching PEF – and look at different aspects for packaging companies and brand owners.

1. A fossil-free alternative

As we all probably know by now, the use of plastic is associated with many problems, like the release of fossil carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at its end-of-life. In addition, one of the largest bulk plastics worldwide, traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET), contains fossil-based terephthalic acid (PTA). Switching to its bio-based alternative polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF), which uses furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) instead of PTA, could bring about significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

2. Superior properties and behaviour

Not only are bioplastics the right choice for moving away from fossil resources, they also come with quality properties for packaging purposes. For example, PEF has high heat resistance – making it attractive for hot-fill purposes, as well as re-use through industrial washing and refill.

Furthermore, PEF has great gas barrier properties for oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour – enabling mono-material packaging and an extended shelf life of products. Using a single material instead of combinations can also save in costs and enable or simplify recycling.

– If you look at the cost of the total package and the features needed for a certain shelf life, shape, or recyclability, using a single material serving all those purposes provides great benefit, says Dirk den Ouden, VP Emerging Business, Division Biomaterials at Stora Enso.

To get the most out of this material, Stora Enso has been developing a breakthrough technology, FuraCore®, to produce FDCA in a cost-effective way at scale, laying the foundation for a plastic that makes sense.

3. Bioplastics fit the circular economy

PEF is made from bio-based crops that grow back – laying the foundation for sustainable and circular packaging. It is also fully recyclable – just as traditional PET packaging.

4. Novelty value and brand appeal – sustainable solutions help brands to differentiate

Differentiation is an important element in the packaging landscape. By associating unique characteristics with their products, brand owners create recognition and authority within their niches, leading to better sales as visibility and credibility increase.

– If we can use the basic material properties to offer something better than what the industry can today, I think there’s great opportunities for brand owners to engage, Den Ouden states.

As customers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the products they buy, one means to stand out is to look at new sustainable options for package branding.

– Not only do people like to have products that are packaged in a nice, compelling way, but also to make a choice that feels good, Den Ouden concludes.

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UPM and Dongsung Chemical announce strategic partnership to develop renewable products using bio-based raw materials

UPM and Dongsung Chemical announce a development partnership that will accelerate the introduction of renewable, sustainable forest-sourced materials into the Asian market and reduce fossil resource consumption.

Dongsung Chemical, headquartered in South Korea and UPM Biochemicals, headquartered in Germany have agreed to form a strategic partnership to develop renewable products using bio-based raw materials, initially for footwear materials. Dongsung Chemical has signed a Letter of Intent for this strategic partnership to develop a renewable polyurethane product based on UPM Biochemicals’ biobased mono-ethylene glycols (MEG), UPM BioPura™.

UPM is investing 750 million Euros to build the world’s first industry scale biorefinery at Leuna in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, to convert sustainably sourced, certified woody biomass into next generation biochemicals. The facility aims to produce 220,000 tonnes annually in total. Bio-MEG is one of the outputs. UPM targets the start-up for end 2023.

Last June, Bioregions Facility and DBFZ (German Biomass Research Centre) co-organised a two-day hybrid workshop about “Unlocking Regional bioeconomy transitions. State of the art and ways forward”. On the second day, there was a study visit to UPM’s biorefinery construction site at Leuna.

Through the partnership of UPM and Dongsung Chemical, the two companies will actively cooperate in the development of eco-friendly products using Bio-MEG, targeting the Asian market and its vast textile and footwear industries. Dongsung Chemical plans to diversify its portfolio by advancing eco-friendly product lines, integrating UPM’s Bio-MEG into its production. Aim is to apply it first to footwear materials and then expanding the field of application to automotive interior materials and adhesives.

UPM’s Bio-MEG is produced from sustainably sourced, certified hardwood obtained from forests in the regions around Leuna in Germany. The biomass does not compete with food resources and has a carbon reduction effect of min. 70% compared to fossil fuel-based MEG. UPM is actively working on further optimizing processes to enable carbon neutrality or even negativity of the product.

ManWoo Lee, CEO of Dongsung Chemical said, “Through the partnership with UPM, we are able to access a stable supply of innovative, next generation bio-materials and apply them to our major products. As Dongsung Chemical is focusing on carbon reduction projects according to its ESG management stance, we will continue cooperating with UPM to increase the proportion of bio-materials.”

Michael Duetsch, Vice President Biochemicals Operations said: “We are delighted to partner with Dongsung Chemical as it pursues its strategy to replace petrochemical-based raw materials with bio-based raw materials and reduce the carbon footprint of its products. UPM is building a world beyond fossils, and we will work with our partners at Dongsung to deliver outstanding solutions for their customers, who are also eager to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Dongsung Chemical continues to develop eco-friendly products and technologies with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 10% by 2030. In June, it launched a biodegradable packaging material brand ‘ECOVIVA®’ and is planning to build pilot facilities for the development of various biodegradable products such as biodegradable functional films, adhesives, and foams.

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EU Bioeconomy Conference 2022

The high-level conference ‘The Bioeconomy – Enabling the European Green Deal in Challenging Times’ will take place on 6 and 7 October in the Charlemagne building in Brussels. In addition, all sessions will also be live-streamed to allow everyone to get involved from anywhere.

We  will present the findings of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy Progress Report, adopted in June 2022 and highlight the role of bioeconomy policy to enhance policy coherence and system thinking. A series of bioeconomy success stories from EU research and innovation will be presented, alongside evidence for a successful implementation of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy. There will also be an opportunity to discuss how the bioeconomy can help to better manage certain trade-offs, by addressing the question of how increasing biomass demand for energy and industrial needs can be matched with increasing climate and biodiversity objectives.

Bioeconomy encompasses all sectors and associated services and investments that produce, use, process, distribute or consume biological resources, including ecosystem services. From the food we eat to the furniture in our house and the clothes we wear, the bioeconomy, as one of the Union’s largest sectors, is already present in our daily lives. Bioeconomy can be the natural enabler and result of the European Green Deal transformation.

Explore bioeconomy success stories with us and join the discussion about the next steps in EU bioeconomy policy action!

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BIND4.0 opened international call for innovative technology startups

BIND4.0 (Basque Industry Open Innovation Platform) was launched in the Basque Country, an Industry hub with a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, in order to connect innovative startups worldwide with industry leading companies. BIND 4.0 facilitates the development of transformative Industry 4.0 projects while providing unparalleled business support due to the region’s strategic long term commitment to Industry and Innovation.

BIND4.0 has a yearly call for innovative technology startups in the fields of Intelligent industry, Clean energy & sustainability, Health and Food. 2022 registration is now open.

Benefits for the successful candidates include:

  • Validate and implement disruptive solutions
  • Receive one or more paid industry 4.0 projects
  • Meet 80+ industry leading potential clients
  • No equity is taken
  • 24 weeks of high impact mentoring
  • Access 20+ specialised VC investors
  • Get immersed in the Basque industrial hub

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About BIND 4.0

BIND 4.0 is a public-private initiative funded by the Basque Government and the Department of Economic Development Sustainability and Environment through the SPRI Group. The SPRI Group is the Basque Government’s business development agency leading and supporting the local entrepreneurship ecosystem through its UpEuskadi platform.

Project competition Land.Voraus!

The project competition Land.Voraus! identifies outstanding rural development projects, awards them with attractive prize money and supports them in advertising the projects. The aim is to support and spread good project ideas in rural areas in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol.

Who can participate?
Every actor who implements a project to strengthen rural areas in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or South Tyrol and can take part in the competition.

A total of 12 winning projects are selected each year. The selected projects receive prize money and are supported in publicizing their projects. The announcement takes the form of a project calendar, which is distributed to the administrative districts and LEADER regions in the DACH region. Each winning project is featured on one page of the calendar with a picture and a brief description of the project.

Bio-based and Circular Buildings for Healthy, Clean Cities

EIT Climate-KIC and partners have designed this Handbook as an interactive manual and a tracking instrument. It contains information resources and step-by-step processes to help and align local stakeholders’ efforts around reducing embodied carbon emissions in buildings, understand and explore circular practices, and influence changes in the supply chain towards bio-based materials, such as timber – which are more sustainable than the current use of concrete and steel.

Estimating employment and value added in the bioeconomy of EU regions

The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, has published this year the Technical report Estimating employment and value added in the bioeconomy of EU regions, which provides a methodological proposal to estimate employment and value-added of the bioeconomy sectors at the NUTS2 (regional) level in the EU.

Mass Madera: a new network to promote building with industrialised solid wood in Spain

The Mass Madera network has recently been presented in Madrid, Spain, with the aim of creating a common space to facilitate and promote the construction of green buildings, towards the decarbonisation of architecture.

The first event of the network brought together a wide range of representatives from architecture, the forest sector and governments to advocate wood as a sustainable building material for the present and the future. Among the guest speakers was the EFI’s Mediterranean Facility (EFIMED), which highlighted how the use of industrialised solid wood is a relevant factor for the bioeconomy.

This meeting was meant as an alignment session to set the direction of this initiative. The official launch will take place in Barcelona in October during the EFI 2022 Annual Conference.

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