Technological watch

Monthly news from the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI), December 2023

Let’s take a look at what happened in December 2023 at RCI:

1) Publication of RCI’s Scientific Background Report “Non-level playing field for renewable materials vs. fossil in Life Cycles Assessments – Critical aspects of the JRC Plastics LCA methodology and its policy implications”This RCI Scientific Background Report was published on 10 January 2024. It is mainly motivated by a JRC a study titled: “LCA of alternative feedstocks for plastic products”, commonly referred to as the JRC Plastics LCA method (Nessi et al. 2021). Alternative feedstocks refer to the same three feedstocks that RCI defines as renewable carbon: biomass, CO2 utilisation and recycling. The above-mentioned study describes a methodology developed by the JRC to compare the environmental performance of alternative feedstocks with fossil-based plastic products. 

However, the methodology has been subject to criticism by various stakeholders, mainly from the bio-based sector, which has even prompted responses from the JRC. The main purpose of this RCI report is to provide additional context to highlight issues that may arise in the implementation of the JRC Plastics LCA methodology, and dives deeper into five issues:

  •  The fossil footprint is likely to be underestimated, not transparent and lacks regional differentiation
  •  Renewable feedstocks are more critically evaluated than fossil feedstocks
  •  Methodological inconsistency and different regulatory support between energy and material use of renewable feedstocks
  •  Biogenic/Atmospheric carbon uptake cannot be transparently visualised at factory in PEF / JRC Plastics LCA methodologies
  •  The methodology should acknowledge the wider interface of sustainability assessment, policy design and landscape
  • The report contains several recommendations to remedy the above-mentioned aspects.

    Find out more here:

    2) Upcoming free RCI webinar on 29 February 2024Interested in learning more about RCI’s latest publication? The next RCI webinar will take place on 29 February 2024 from 14:00 to 15:00 h CET, and will share some of the key take-aways from the “Non-level playing field for renewable materials vs. fossil in Life Cycles Assessments – Critical aspects of the JRC Plastics LCA methodology and its policy implications”.

    You are cordially invited to join us for this free webinar via:

    3) Presentation of the RCS Label at the EBC2023 in BerlinAt the 18th edition of the European Bioplastics Conference 2023, which brought together 380 delegates online and in person in Berlin, Philippe Dewolfs from our RCI member TÜV Austria gave an update and overview on the development of the Renewable Carbon Share (RCS) Label. 

    In May 2023, RCI and TÜV Austria have joined forces up to launch such an RCS certificate and label to the market. The main purpose of the label is to indicate the share of renewable, non-fossil carbon in a material or product, acting as a meta-label that builds on the existing landscape. An Advisory Committee has been established to guide the further development of the certification scheme, and several case studies are currently under development. 

    Interested in the RCS label? Don’t hesitate to contact

    Publication date: 11/01/2024

    Author: Marion Kupfer

    Bio-based News


    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.