RSB’s groundbreaking Positive Impacts Approach to reshape the goals of the global bioeconomy
7th December 2018 Berlin, Germany: With the approval last week in Berlin of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials’ best-in-class sustainability Standard for Advanced Products, RSB and its member community have launched their groundbreaking Positive Impacts approach. Advanced products (non-energy use products) include plastics, textiles, pharmaceuticals, packaging, tableware, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, food, feed, pulp, paper and many others. This new approach will showcase the real impacts – from greenhouse gas savings to non-renewable resource conservation – of a new class of Advanced Products. With the expansion of the boundaries of sustainable production – to include not just bio-based content, but also waste from fossil sources – the way in which the sustainability of this growing sector is understood, measured and managed is evolving. RSB is leading that evolution with this trailblazing approach which will support producers, processors, end-users and consumers make the most sustainable choices.
“RSB’s new Standard for Advanced Products is a truly groundbreaking piece of work. By focusing on the Positive Impacts of different types of advanced products, the Standard will support companies that are on the cutting edge of sustainability and the circular economy to make clearer, more credible claims that will help consumers make better choices. UPM is proud to have worked on developing the Standard in collaboration with various stakeholders groups. We look forward to seeing its implementation support real action on sustainability and climate impacts, and hope that the example of UPM as certified operator encourages other companies as well.” – Maiju Helin, Head of Sustainability and Market Development, UPM Biofuels
Some categories of RSB certified advanced products will now carry claims related not to their sustainable bio-based content, but which will highlight the positive impacts of the product in terms of their climate impact, fossil resource saving and sustainable production. These claims are more scientifically robust and will help end-users and consumers to choose the most sustainable and low impact option on the market.
Stephen Wetmore, who drives Sustainable Business, Partnerships, and Innovations at WWF South Africa, had this to say about the approach: “What Positive Impact provides is for a step-wise approach that drives sustainable production, seeks climate change mitigation and immediately reduces demand for virgin fossil resources – collectively these measures ensure the reduction of carbon emissions. This is not just a positive approach for manufacturers, but a much needed guide for consumers and a critical standard for suppliers and producers.“
The Positive Impacts approach recognises that the complex processes used to produce materials from bio-based and fossil waste feedstock cannot be accurately represented by mass balance. While in a simple process with clearly defined bio-based inputs, mass balance is an effective way of measuring and communicating a product’s total bio content, the same cannot be said for the increasingly complex production processes that are becoming more common in sectors like biochemicals, bioplastics and more.
Rolf Hogan, RSB’s Executive Director, had this to say, “We are extremely proud to be launching our revised Standard for Advanced Products with this really innovative approach to measuring and communicating impacts. We think that not only will this help companies across the supply chain to make smarter and more sustainable choices, but will help stimulate awareness among consumers who are looking for products that align with their desire to lower impacts and have a role in the fight against climate change.”
Positive Impacts is the result of over 18 months of work by experts at the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials and their member community to develop an updated approach to sustainability for products, taking into account several new material classes that are being used by innovative companies to reduce their impacts. With the growing use of non-bio-based feedstocks that still can have huge benefits for people and planet, the RSB community has approved an updated definition of their best-in-class bioproducts standard – now Advanced Products Standard – to include products that:
- are sustainably produced throughout the supply chain (i.e. meet the RSB Principles & Criteria);
- mitigate climate change;
- reduce the risk of fossil depletion.