The power of cross-sector collaboration to drive decarbonisation

Published: 8-Dec-2023

P&G co-chair working group to navigate the biomass policy landscape and advance the transition to a bioeconomy

The decarbonisation of the energy used for manufacturing is a priority for the consumer products industry. If businesses are to move towards net zero, materials innovation for everyday products will be vital to reducing carbon emissions.

Enter biomass materials derived from plants, wood, and crop residues or waste. When sourced in a sustainable manner, these renewable materials could play a pivotal role in decarbonisation. So, what’s needed to accelerate this solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and align with the Paris agreement?

At the Beauty Leaders' Summit, held in Paris on November 8th, members of the Sustainable Biomass Policy Platform (SBPP) – a cross-sectoral working group created by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and co-chaired by Procter and Gamble (P&G) that brings together industry, civil society, academia and other engaged stakeholders – met to discuss the crucial role policy plays in enabling a net-zero future.

The summit delved into the most pressing topics and trends shaping the beauty world today. In a thought-provoking and lively panel discussion, representatives from the RSB and P&G, as well as aerospace company Boeing and International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF), explored the role of policy and how harnessing the power of cross-sector collaboration has great potential to accelerate the adoption of bio-based feedstocks.

“The future potential of biomass is extraordinary,” says Elena Schmidt, Executive Director at RSB, a multi-stakeholder membership organisation focused on the sustainable transition to a bio-based economy. “It can be used as a substitute for fossil-based feedstocks and has the potential to deliver significant emission reductions.

However, most existing policy-driven incentives and market mechanisms focus on sustainable aviation fuel, and bio-based inputs for many industries are estimated to be between one and five times more expensive than fossil-based counterparts.

“The SBPP has been created to provide a sustainability compass for sectors looking to harness biomass in their decarbonisation journey”, says Schmidt. “It aims to support and guide them through the complex policy landscape, all while providing essential confidence to navigate the sustainability risks that must be addressed when working with the bioeconomy.”

The panel discussion highlighted the commitment from industry leaders, including Renee Henze, Vice President of Sustainability at IFF, a business that produces fragrances and cosmetic actives, and Andres Franco from P&G.

“The adoption of bio-based materials is key to reducing carbon emissions,”

Andres Franco, Senior Director, Global Sustainability & Communications at P&G Beauty whose trusted brands include Olay, Head & Shoulders and Pantene, adds, “That’s why it’s important to P&G to co-chair the SBPP. With different sectors bringing diverse experiences and expertise, the SBPP is a space where stakeholders across private, non-profit, and public sectors can navigate the complexity of the biomass policy landscape and support the work of policymakers to ensure the full potential of the bioeconomy.”

Sparking Industry Collaboration

The SBPP currently unites different sectors from far and wide including the beauty, aviation, shipping, and consumer goods industries. Boeing, represented on the panel and in the SBPP by Onofre Andrade, Senior Sustainable Aviation Fuel Strategist at Boeing, is a great example of a company using its knowledge to help other industries navigate the biomass policy landscape.

“The aviation industry are pioneers in this space,” says Schmidt. “While there’s still some way to go, they’ve advanced the production of sustainable aviation fuel thanks to policy incentives and the stringent sustainability criteria of the RSB. Representing one of many industries which share supply chains with other sectors, Boeing is sharing their learnings of working with policymakers to scale bio-based feedstocks – and how this can be applied to other businesses.”

To accelerate progress across industries, it’s imperative that policymakers work with researchers and stakeholders to create national strategies for bio-based materials.

“For businesses to move forward today, they need to assess the carbon emissions created by chemical compounds in their products and supply chains and consider where sustainably sourced biomass could reduce their impact on the environment – and, vitally, it’s crucial they join the conversation,” says Schmidt.

This is something that Franco wholeheartedly agrees with. “Today’s pressing environmental challenges cannot be solved by any one individual, organisation or entity alone,” he says. “That’s why we invite stakeholders from across all industries and civil society to join the SBPP in harnessing the power of collaboration on matters of policy to help advance the transition to a bioeconomy.”

To read more about the SBPP and its work, please visit the Sustainable Biomass Policy Platform.

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