Spanish EU Presidency and Circular Choices Coalition discuss how an innovative, competitive, industrial bioeconomy can deliver the EU Green Deal

Logo of Circular Choices Coalition, which represents experts in the EU forestry sector, the wood, fibre-based paper, and board products industry, and in renewable energy provision

According to a press release by the European Panel Federation (EPF), the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU and a coalition of European trade associations representing 20% of the EU’s manufacturing companies gathered on 26 Sep in Brussels to debate how a circular bioeconomy could enable a more strategically autonomous, resilient and competitive Europe, while at the same time helping the EU navigate through global challenges, climate change and a move away from fossils.

Keynote speaker Alberto Ruiz, Counsellor for Industry at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU, highlighted industrial competitiveness and innovation as the priorities of the Spanish EU Presidency. Ruiz noted that the green transition can be driven by new industrial models, should be fair and must put citizens at the centre of it.

The event featured presentations from companies across Europe, representing providers of high-quality wood, paper and fibre-based products. These companies showcased real-life examples on how the use of renewable bio-based resource is already driving the EU’s green growth engine, aligning with the objective of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

EPF managing board member and Unilin Panels CEO Veronique Hoflack inaugurated the TED talk-style session: “Sustainability is not optional; it is not a nice-to-have anymore, it is a need-to-have. Transforming waste into raw materials has been part of our history and is in our DNA. We never accept the status quo and today our particleboards consist of a staggering 95% recycled wood, a symbol of what is possible when we challenge ourselves.

EPF reported that Hoflack called on the EU institutions to support such innovation with strong European policies supporting circular businesses and keeping industry thriving in Europe.

Ilkka Hämälä, chairman of Cepi, an European association representing the paper industry, and CEO of Metsä Group, stated: “I am proud of what the Circular Choices Coalition represents, we are a coalition of believers bringing together 20 EU trade associations to develop an open cross-sectoral cooperation. Our promise is for our sectors to mitigate carbon emissions in the EU to the equivalent of at least 30% of EU fossil emissions by 2030, if EU policy decisions are made to support this direction.”

Hämälä underlined that to achieve the industry’s targets, “attention to legislative coherence across the different policy areas as well as to the cumulative impacts of EU regulations is key.”

Hans Ingels, head of Bioeconomy Unit in DG GROW concluded: “The EU Bioeconomy Strategy is key in achieving the EU Green Deal’s objectives. It is important that we work together with the industry to deliver to the next generations a new societal and economic model that is based on the circular use of biological and renewable resources.”