Cascade use of biomass

Science-Policy-Practice interaction day (22 Oct)

Cascade use of biomass as main topic

In a context of increasing pressure on biomass resources, due to a fast increase of needs for renewable energy on the one hand and a growing demand for forest products and biomaterials on the other, the concept of “cascade use of biomass” is being discussed both by policy makers and stakeholders.

It is said that the cascading use of biomass, prioritizing material use before energy use is preferable as a climate change mitigation measure as the carbon stays stored in the material for a longer term and it substitutes non-renewable materials and fossil energy twice. In principle the cascading use is also more resource efficient and economically beneficent. These principles may nevertheless be challenged in different specific situations depending on the precise definition of “cascade use” (ranging from best value utilization of by-products to waste wood multi-recycling before energy use) and on the market conditions. In some regions there is little demand or resource available for high value wood products, material use alternatives for agricultural biomass may not exist, or market prices are simply higher for energy use. In such cases alternatives to energy use may be lacking.

Is cascading use of biomass a superior concept in the context of a sustainable bioeconomy? Can we proof it is beneficial for land managers, industry and society? Are there winners and losers? What are the drivers or barriers to cascade use? Do we need additional rules and regulations? Are there common situations where cascade use of wood shows a generally positive sustainability profile or which are the conditions for these environmental, economic and social aspects to be positive for cascade use? The ideal orientation for decision making could be given by an integrated sustainability concept of cascade use, similar to the established principles in the waste directive: first priority - reduce waste, second priority - recycling, third priority - energetic recovery. How could we implement such an orientation in a sustainable bioeconomy? These are the questions that will be discussed in the Science-Policy-Practice interaction day of the Towards a Sustainable Bioeconomy conference.

The day starts at 9:00 with welcoming and short key messages from the prevíous day.

The overall facilitation of the day is by Ines Omann. Before dividing into the break-out groups, there's a panel discussion on the day's topic. The panel is led by Antonio Trasobares from the Catalan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Food and Natural Environment, and the panellists are:

  • Silvia Melegari, Secretary General, European Organisation of Sawmilling Industries
  • Flor Díaz Pulido, Deputy Head of Unit, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials, Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission
  • Markku Karlsson, Vice-chair, European Biofuels Technology Platform
  • Joan Boix, Managing Director, Serradora Boix S.L.

Break-out groups in the morning (exact composition of the groups tbc):

  • Group 1: Cascade use in practice today - material use reality, with a short introductory presentation from Klaus Richter (Technical University of Munich), who will also chair the session, joined by Jordi Gene (INCAFUST).
  • Group 2: Cascade use in practice today - energy use reality, chaired by Denis Boglio (Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia), and joined Martijn Vis (Biomass Technology Group).
  • Group 3: How can we implement revised sustainability criteria and indicators in company practices? Session chaired by Bernhard Wofslehner (EFICEEC), and joined by Marta Salvador (PEFC Spain).

Break-out groups in the afternoon (exact composition of the groups tbc):

  • Group 4: Cascade use – do we need changes in the policy frameworks to regulate biomass utilization and address conflicts between material and energy use? This discussion topic is introduced by Bernard de Galembert (Confederation of European Paper Industries). How can the ambitious goals for the EU's 2030 bioeconomy be optimally supported by sustainable and efficient wood sourcing? This discussion topic is introduced by Richard Sikkema (Joint Research Centre). The session is chaired by Ben Allen (Institute for European Environmental Policy).
  • Group 5: Cascade use - In there currently a business case? Why (not)? The session is chaired by Gérard Deroubaix (FCBA).
  • Group 6: Expectations and future perspectives on cascade use - identifying gaps that require additional research. The discussion is joined by Johan Elvnert (Forest-based Sector Technology Platform) and chaired by Manfred J. Lexer (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna).
  • Group 7: Topic to be defined based on questions from the audience. The session is chaired b Inazio Martínez de Arano (Mediterranean Regional Office of the European Forest Institute).


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