July 18, 2021

Recap: ISCC Technical Stakeholder Meeting “Circular Economy and Bioeconomy”

Sustainability certification of recycled and bio-based materials is now the expectation rather than the exception. This was the clear message from the recent Stakeholder Meeting on the Circular Economy and Bioeconomy.  ISCC is leading the way, and the important milestone of one thousand ISCC PLUS certificates is in sight. There has been a fourfold increase in uptake in just two years. Soon brand owners will have an easier way to participate in ISCC PLUS, after the launch in a few weeks of a new licensing concept, which will be tailored to their requirements.

The stakeholder meeting on 15 June 2021 was co-chaired by Frederic Dreux (Unilever) and Jason Pierce (Eastman). More than 120 participants from international consumer brands, industrial producers, auditors and regulators took part in a day of discussion, feedback and learning.

Emanuelle Maire, the Head of Sustainable Production, Products and Consumption at DG Environment, set the scene with a presentation on the EU regulations and actions under development or review, to promote recycling and the circular economy. Prapti Muhuri from the American Chemistry Council talked about the increasing number of ISCC PLUS certificates in the US and the potential role of certification.

The focus then shifted to practical implementation and scale up of certified circular and bio circular materials as Knorr, Jockey Group, Borealis and Froneri, presented their experiences as brand owners, packaging manufacturers and chemical companies. One key message to emerge was that circular polymers from chemical recycling are crucial to meeting recycled content targets for food grade packaging. Mechanical recyclate for food use is scarce and has quality concerns.

Dedicated working groups are pushing ahead in two areas, to respond to the challenges brought by the rapid pace of change. The Working Group “Mass Balance” presented the results of a public consultation. The rules governing the mass balance accounting for biogenic and recycled raw materials, which are coprocessed with conventional fossil materials, are key to maintaining public trust. Further guidance, calculation examples and explanatory material will be provided to increase stakeholder understanding.

Discussions with regulators on mass balance accounting will be prioritised, as the European Commission develops options for the calculation, verification and reporting of recycled content in plastic products. These measures could be fed directly into implementing acts of the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive. Credit transfers of recycled content between different sites throughout the EU are under discussion. The alignment of ISCC PLUS with EU requirements will be explored to support certificate holders in the market. A wider attribution of credits allows the optimum use of existing assets resulting in fewer barriers to scale-up.

The Working Group “Claims, Logos and ISCC Brand Recognition” presented the new on-product logos that have been developed by a design agency. The aim is to offer an attractive, transparent and consumer-friendly logo with complementary claims. There will be one logo type for each raw material category that ISCC certifies; circular, bio circular and bio.  ISCC will also offer a logo that combines circular and biomaterials, with a further option for very small format packaging.

The next few months will see promotion of the new logos with a newsletter and publicity on social media. Case studies with the first users of the new logo will increase recognition among consumers and brand owners alike. Expect to see the new logos on products in shops near you!

The presentations from the meeting are available here on the ISCC website.