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.


Derived from biomass. Composed or derived in whole or in part of biological products issued from the biomass (including plant, animal, and marine or forestry materials).

Bio-based carbon / bio-based content

Fraction of (the carbon of) a product derived from biomass.

Bio-based drop-in chemicals

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

bio-based economy

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

Bio-based material

Materials wholly or partly derived from biomass.

Bio-based plastic

Bio-based plastics are plastics (partially) made from renewable raw materials. They are not necessary biodegradable.

Bio-based product

Product wholly or partly derived from biomass.


Can be decomposed by biological activity.

biodegradable plastics

Can be entirely decomposed by biological activity without leaving behind any residue. Biodegradable plastics can be manufactured from renewable materials and fossil fuels.


Defined in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity as: “The variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ‘inter alia’, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”


An economy that is largely dependent on bio-based products and materials, and bio-based industries.


Energy derived from biofuels.


Fuel produced from biomass. It is a broad definition that cover a range of materials, from solid fuels like wood to liquid fuels such as biodiesel. First generation or conventional biofuels are biofuels produced from food crops, such as sugar, starch and vegetable oils. They are produced from crops that can also be used for […]


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


Organic matter, such as plant material and animal waste.


Plastic that is derived from biomass, rather than petrochemicals. Bio-based plastics are not necessarily biodegradable.


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.


Solvents derived from biomass. Solvents are liquids in which a solute 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 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, 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.

fibre products

Products derived from the fibres of herbaceous and woody plant materials. Examples include pulp, composition board products and wood chip.

forestry residues

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

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

The design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Also known as sustainable chemistry. (Anastas & Warner 1998, also US EPA 2011)

greenhouse gases

Gases that contribute to global warming and climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, an environmental agreement adopted by many of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997, covers six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

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 diverse as chemicals, food and feed, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles and bioenergy.

Industrial compostable

Compostable only under a controlled environment with industrial conditions, which include high temperatures and allow for a faster composting than home composting. Industrial compostable is also called ‘commercial compostable’ or ‘municipal compostable’.

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.


The major component of natural gas. It can be formed by anaerobic digestion of biomass or gasification of coal or biomass.


Growing genetically identically/very similar plants over a large area, with no other types of plants present.

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 that is composed of biomass and can be continually reused.


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.

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