Biobased chemistry includes the manufacture of chemical products using enzymes, micro-organisms and synthetic biology, but also the production of chemicals from renewable resources such as biomass. RIVM is studying how biobased chemistry can contribute to a clean and safe environment and an improved public health. In our assessments we include the socio-economic aspects as well as the consequences for climate, food supply and biodiversity. RIVM’s integral approach allows stakeholders to make sound choices in this promising field.

Biobased substitution

The substitution of substances of very high concern (SVHC) in REACH by safe biobased alternatives is an important topic for RIVM. We also use this concept to focus in general on safe(r) products build from renewable feed stocks.

Synthetic biology

RIVM looks at safety and sustainability aspects, but also at the social perception around the application of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and synthetic biology in biobased chemistry.

Environmental impact analysis

Biobased processes and products are not a priori sustainable and safe. We look at the environmental impact of the variety of biobased processes and products, realizing that the biobased process technology needs time to optimize. We study, amongst others, the health effects of biofuels, but we also focus on the integration of environmental impact assessment of biobased chemicals into REACH.

Policy decision making framework

We are currently working with several partners on the building of a decision making tool for chemicals along their life cycle, weighing not only sustainability, but also safety and socio-economic factors . The outcomes  can be used for many purposes, ranging from spatial planning issues to further guidance for the socio-economic analysis (SEA) in REACH.

Safe innovation

RIVM works on the 'safe innovation' concept. Our role is to participate early in the R&D phase to ensure that safety and sustainability aspects are being covered adequately. Great ideas shouldn’t stop because of unexpected legal obligations when upscaling. Example: European project NCC Foam.

Value chains of biomass

RIVM is studying on building concepts for selecting the most valuable and sustainable routes for using renewable biomass as feedstock for the production of chemicals and materials or energy.

Information desk

RIVM advices companies and institutes on environmental permits, legal obligations, etc. in biobased chemistry, in particular related to REACH and synthetic biology/GMO. Daily practice signals can be the input for our policy advice and for general solutions for unnecessary bottlenecks in biobased production chains.