Basically any product that can be made from oil can theoretically be made from biomass. There are already a lot of bio-based products available on the market. Some examples include: apparel made from milk, wood or coffee grounds, shoes from algae, disposable tableware from palm leaves, toys from bioplastic, compostable plastic bags, personal care products from plants, natural detergents, plant-based drinking bottles, planting pots for your garden or even new glasses.
Nonetheless bio-based products may be hard to find or recognise, as few products carry a certified label or any other information indicating that they are bio-based. Marketers often do not promote bio-based products for being bio-based. They rather focus on the new and better functionalities bio-based products can provide.
Product databases can help you to get an idea of the wide variety of bio-based products already available. There are many databases that present green products and materials that also include bio-based products. But there are very few databases that cover a broad and international selection of consumer products.
The following are among the most interesting bio-based product databases:
- Originally designed in Open-Bio project, and incorporated in the InnProBio project, the recently launched InnProBio product database presents various bio-based products sorted by application area, product type and Common Procurement Vocabulary code. Products include for example office supplies, gardening equipment, lubricants or plastics plates and cutlery. In the database, users find information about the bio-based content of products, sustainability, functionality and end-of-life aspects, such as biodegradability. Claims are supported by references to standards, technical sheets and labels.
- The project “Nachwachsende Rohstoffe im Einkauf”, led by Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR), generated a range of materials, mainly targeting public procurers in Germany, including a website featuring a product database with more than 600 products (and their suppliers) in six broad product categories.
- In the Netherlands various databases (with highly different coverage of product characteristics) were established in the last few years. The number of products currently included in each database is fairly small: typically between 15 and 75. Among the most interesting ones are: the Bio-based Collection, initiated by CoE BBE, Centrum voor Innovatief Vakmanschap and Biobased Delta; the Knowledge Bank Bio-based Construction of the Stichting Agrodome, and the bio-based product database newly established by Agro & Chemie.
- Although not a European source, worth mentioning is the BioPreferred® Program, for its elaborate bio-based product catalogues. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred® Program promotes the purchase and use of bio-based products, which have a specified amount of bio-based content, including plant, animal, or marine resources. In its catalogue USDA designates the minimum content of bio-based materials used in products.
Photo credits: Elizabeth Lies