Horizon Europe: Circular-by-design bio-based materials to improve the circularity of complex structures
Successful proposals should contribute to research and development of innovative, sustainable bio-based materials, in the scope of CBE, to improve on the circularity and recyclability of currently used complex structures, such as multi-layered or multi-material structures, including plastics and composites. Bio-based innovations should address a range of end-use applications where there is a priority to identify more sustainable, circular options (e.g., packaging, construction materials, etc.). Projects are therefore expected to contribute to the EU Bioeconomy strategy and its action plan, the Plastics Strategy, the Waste Framework Directive, the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) and the Circular Economy Action Plan.
Project results are expected to contribute to the following expected outcomes:
- Higher availability of circular-by-design bio-based materials and B2B products, as innovative solutions to current products with complex structures and in line with application (performance) requirements, while being positively assessed for environmental performance.
- Diversified bio-based materials and B2B products portfolio and their applications.
- Contribution to increasing the availability of renewable carbon-based complex structures, their circularity and addressing zero pollution goals.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL): Activities are expected to achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project – see Horizon Europe General Annex B.
Expected EU contribution per project: It is estimated that a contribution of EUR 4.5 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
The recyclability and circularity for complex structures (e.g., multi-layered products, multi-material products and composites) remain a challenge that needs to be tackled. Their recycling can often be challenging due to their composition but also due to differences in practices across Europe in sorting, collection, and treatment of waste. Research and innovation should address current materials/components (in the aforementioned complex structures) that are currently fossil-based, or non-circular bio-based or partly bio-based/fossil-based, aiming for circular bio-based alternatives.
Proposals under this topic should:
- Design and develop novel ‘circular-by-design’ bio-based materials and B2B products, in the scope of CBE JU, as competitive solutions that address the circularity issues of complex materials, while meeting the supply chain and end-use performance requirements.
- Test the possible associated recycling and/or upcycling options (lab and pilot-scale). The proposed innovations should increase the valorisation of the complex structures after use and move up in the waste hierarchy.
- Provision for the project integrating ‘safe-and-sustainable-by design’ generic criteria and framework considerations, in line with the EU Chemicals strategy for sustainability.
- Apply and/or adapt existing/mature or novel digital technologies provided that they are instrumental to achieving the project’s outcomes and scope. Applications of digital technologies that should be considered in the scope are among the following areas: i) chemicals, materials and process design & modelling ii) process monitoring and optimisation and iii) data analytics and data management of the bio-based products in the scope.
- Disseminate the outputs and learning outcomes from the project in order to increase the public awareness, and awareness of relevant industry actors, of potential benefits of bio-based solutions and raise awareness on opportunities to be addressed.
- Develop guidelines and recommendations defining how to manage the developed bio-based materials and products throughout their life cycle, with a specific reference to end of life.
- Develop recommendations, based on the functionality and technical performance of the innovative bio-based structures, with regards to the potential end-uses/value chains being applicable for future, further scale up developments.
In the proposal, the preliminary assessment of the environmental sustainability of the developed bio-based materials and B2B products should include all vectors that are relevant to the biomass feedstock environmental sustainability.
The publication of the ’Safe and Sustainable by Design chemicals and materials’ Framework, aiming to the definition of criteria and evaluation procedure for chemicals and materials, is expected to become available by end of 2022. The proposed SSbD framework is expected to assess chemicals and materials following a hierarchical approach in which safety aspects are considered first, followed by environmental, social and economic aspects. Please see also European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Caldeira, C., Farcal, R., Moretti, C., et al., Safe and sustainable by design chemicals and materials : review of safety and sustainability dimensions, aspects, methods, indicators, and tools, 2022, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2760/879069