Glossary table

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
agricultural residue

Agricultural plant parts, primarily stalks and leaves, not removed from the fields with the primary harvest, such as corn stover (stalks, leaves, husks, and cobs), wheat straw and rice straw.

Anaerobic Digestion

The breakdown of organic material by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen. This process is used to generate biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide), used as a replacement for natural gas, fossil fuel replacement for electricity and heat generation.

Bio-based carbon

Fraction of carbon derived from biomass.

Bio-based content

Fraction of a product derived from biomass.

Bio-based drop-in chemicals

Bio-based versions of existing petrochemicals which have established markets. They are chemically identical to existing fossil-based chemicals.

bio-based economy

The bio-based economy is part of the bioeconomy and comprises the activities that focus on the production of non-food products: chemicals, materials, and energy.

Bio-based material

Materials wholly or partly derived from biomass.

Bio-based plastic/bioplastic

Plastic materials whole or in part made from renewable bio-based raw materials, rather than petrochemicals. They are not necessary biodegradable. Note that the term bioplastic is short for bio-based plastic. However, the term is sometimes confused with biodegradable plastic. To avoid confusion, it is better to use the full  term ‘bio-based plastics’ and ‘biodegradable plastics’.

Bio-based product

Product wholly or partly derived from biomass.

Bio-based/Bio-based material/Bio-based product

Product wholly or partly derived from biomass. Products which are partly bio-based should be accompanied by a quantification of the bio-based content.


Capability of being degraded or decomposed by biological activity under specific conditions. Even though some examples biodegrade in water or soil, biodegradable materials often require industrial composting conditions. (compare to compostable and home compostable)

biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics biodegrade in certain conditions, and may be made from fossil-based and/or bio-based materials.


The variability among living organisms: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.


Economic activity involving the production of biomass and the conversion of biomass into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products, and bioenergy. It includes sectors of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, pulp and paper production, as well as parts of chemical, biotechnological and energy industries.


Energy from biomass.


Renewable fuel produced from biomass. It is a broad definition that covers a range of materials, from solid fuels like wood to liquid fuels such as biodiesel. In its narrow sense the term refers to liquid or gaseous biofuels for transport. First generation or conventional biofuels are biofuels produced from food crops, such as sugar, […]


Lubricants derived from biomass. Lubricants are substances, such as oil or grease, used for minimising friction.


All organic material, either living or dead can be called biomass for as long it is not fossilised (including plant, animal, marine-, forestry materials and micro-organisms).


Plastic that is (at least partially) derived from biomass, rather than petrochemicals. Bio-based plastics are not necessarily biodegradable. Note that the term is short for bio-based plastic. However, the term is sometimes confused with biodegradable plastic. To avoid confusion it is better to use the full terms ‘bio-based plastics’ and ‘biodegradable plastics’.


A polymer comprised, at least in part, of monomers produced in a biorefinery from biomass such as corn. An alternate definition includes all biologically produced polymers, like DNA, RNA and proteins.


A facility where products and energy are produced from biomass using different conversion technologies in an integrated manner.


Solvents derived from biomass. Solvents are liquids in which another substance is dissolved to form a solution.


Surfactants derived from biomass. Surfactants are molecules that consist of one hydrophilic (water-loving) part and one hydrophobic (water-hating) part. When added to a liquid the surfactants reduce the liquid’s surface tension. They have practical applications in many products, such as detergents, fabric softeners, emulsions and soaps.


An incidental product deriving from a manufacturing process or chemical reaction – not the primary product or service being produced. A by-product can be useful or it can have negative consequences.

Carbon footprint

The full quantity of greenhouse gases that can be attributed to an entity, e.g. an individual, a company, an organisation, a product or a country.


Balancing the amount of carbon released – by burning fossil fuels or biomass, or the decomposition of plant biomass, for example – with an equivalent amount put into and stored in soils, plant and animal tissues, or other material such as the ocean floor.

Circular Economy

A perspective in which the economic value of materials is optimised over time. This calls for minimal raw material extraction, reintroduction of materials already in the economy and no waste.


Capability of being degraded under composting conditions. Even though some home compostable materials exist, compostable materials usually require industrial composting conditions. (compare to biodegradable and home compostable)

Environmental Impact

Any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, that wholly or partially results from an organisation’s activities, products or services.

Fibres/Fibre Products

Fibres are natural or man-made long thin strands or threads on a molecular or macro level. They are often used in the manufacture of other materials. Fibre products are derived from the fibres of herbaceous and woody plant materials. Examples include fabric, pulp, composition board products and wood chip.

Forestry Residues

By-products of logging operations (primary forest residues), such as branches, stumps, treetops and sawdust, and industrial wood processing (secondary forest residues), for example bark, sawdust and wood chip.

Fossil Feedstock

A carbon or hydrocarbon feedstock formed in the ground from the remains of dead plants and animals by exposure to heat and pressure. It takes millions of years to form fossil feedstocks. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are fossil feedstocks.

Fossil feedstock

A carbon or hydrocarbon feedstock formed in the ground from the remains of dead plants and animals. It takes millions of years to form fossil feedstocks. Oil, natural gas, and coal are fossil feedstocks.

Green Chemistry/Sustainable Chemistry

The design of chemical products and processes so that they are as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, to minimise the amount of waste and energy consumption.

Greenhouse Gases

Earth’s greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet. The increase of these gases in the atmosphere contributes to global warming and climate change. The main gases responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases.

Home Compostable

Capability of being degraded under composting conditions at home. These materials do not require industrial composting conditions to biodegrade. (compare to biodegradable and compostable)

Industrial Biotechnology

Industrial, or white, biotechnology uses enzymes and microorganisms to make bio-based products in sectors as chemicals, food and feed, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles and bioenergy.

Industrial Compostable

Compostable only in a controlled environment with industrial conditions, which include high temperatures and allow for a faster composting than home composting.

Life Cycle Assessment

An assessment of the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, from raw material acquisition through production, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling and final disposal. Also known as life-cycle analysis, ecobalance, and cradle-to-grave analysis.

marginal lands

Areas not suitable for agriculture, such as land that is subject to drought or extreme flooding, or that suffers from salt stress. It is a broad definition that covers many different types of land. It’s considered land of poor quality with regard to agricultural use, and unsuitable for housing and other uses.

Methane (CH4)

The main constituent of natural gas. Production is also possible from biomass via anaerobic digestion to biogas and upgrading to biomethane, or via gasification to syngas and upgrading to synthetic natural gas (SNG).


Monoculture is the practice of growing one crop/tree species in a field/forest at a time. In agriculture monoculture is widely used in intensive farming and in organic farming. Continuous monoculture, or monocropping, where farmers raise the same species year after year, can lead to the quicker build up and spread of pests and diseases in […]

Organic Waste

Waste derived from animals or plants.


A large molecule formed from many identical smaller molecules, known as monomers.


The collection, sorting and processing of disposed materials for use in another manufacturing process.

Renewable Material

Material composed of a resource, such as biomass, that replenishes and does not deplete. The resource regrows and new material can be made again.


A liquid that dissolves a solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution.

Sustainable Development

Economic growth and social progress that is sustainable now and in the future. It combines economic development with environmental protection and social justice.

Sustainable Forest Management

Managing forests so that they meet society’s current demands without compromising similar capability for future generations.

Keep up with the Bioeconomy!

Subscribe to updates from AllThings.Bio