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Bio: The prefix "bio" frequently appears in everyday language in terms such as "bioproduct" (where "product" can be substituted by e.g. lubricant), mainly as marketing tools. Detergents and plastic products are other examples of the widespread use of the “bio” prefix. Without reference to clear and agreed definitions, there are many unsubstantiated claims, which can be deceptive.

Bio-based: Derived from biomass. Biomass may have undergone physical, chemical or biological treatment(s).

Bio-based carbon or biogenic carbon: Carbon derived from biomass.

Bio-based carbon content: Fraction of carbon derived from biomass in a product. There are several approaches to express the bio-based carbon content. These include as a percentage of: the mass; the total carbon content, or the total organic carbon content of the sample. These are detailed in the relevant standards of CEN/TC 411.

Bio-based content: Fraction of a product that is derived from biomass. Normally expressed as a percentage of the total mass of the product. 

For the methodology to determine the bio-based content, see FprCEN/TR 16721.

Bio-based product: Product wholly or partly derived from biomass. The bio-based product is normally characterized by the bio-based carbon content or the bio-based content. 

For the determination and declaration of the bio-based content and the bio-based carbon content, see the relevant standards of CEN/TC 411.

A “Product” can be an intermediate, material, semi-finished or final product.

When "bio-based product" is used to refer to a product that is partly bio-based, the claim should be accompanied by a quantification of the bio-based content.

Biodegradation: Degradation caused by biological activity, e.g. by enzymatic action, leading to a significant change in the chemical structure of a product. According to this definition, anything is deemed to be biodegradable, it only depends on how long this process takes. For a regular plastic bottle, it can be 100 to 1000 years. This is why when making claims for biodegradable materials, it is important to always use an international standard to establish biodegradation conditions and time.

Biomass: Material of biological origin excluding material embedded in geological formations and/or fossilized. 

EXAMPLES: (whole or parts of) plants, trees, algae, marine organisms, microorganisms, animals, etc.

Biomass content: Fraction of a product that is derived from biomass.

Bioplastics: According to the European Bioplastics association, bioplastics are plastic materials that are either bio-based, or biodegradable, or both.

Biopolymer: A polymer produced by living organisms. They are polymeric biomolecules.

Compostable: A material that is biodegradable under specific conditions (industrial composting or home composting), but also disintegrates (fragments below a certain size) and has no adverse effect to the compost for plant growing. A prerequisite for compostability is absence of adverse elements such as heavy metals. [what about the requirement for turning and oxygen?]

Co-product: Any of two or more products coming from the same unit process or product system.

Degradation: Irreversible process leading to a significant change in the structure of a product, typically characterized by a change of properties (e.g. integrity, molecular mass or structure, mechanical strength) and/or by fragmentation, affected by environmental conditions, proceeding over a period of time and comprising one or more steps.

Durability: Ability of a product to retain the values of its properties under specified conditions.

Life cycle assessment (LCA): Compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.

Mass balance: Relationship between input and output of a specific substance within a system in which the output from the system cannot exceed the input into the system.

Oxo-biodegradation: Degradation resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or successively. 

This process however is thought to merely fragment into small pieces that remain in and potentially harm the environment and endanger recycling and composting and has been or is being banned by many organizations.

Product: Substance, mixture of substances, material or object resulting from a production process. Product can be an intermediate, material, semi-finished or final product.

Renewable material: Material that is composed of biomass and that can be continually replenished.

Sustainable development: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable development is about integrating the goals of a high quality of life, health and prosperity with social justice and maintaining the earth's capacity to support life in all its diversity. These social, economic and environmental goals are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Sustainable development can be treated as a way of expressing the broader expectations of society as a whole.

Total carbon (TC): Quantity of carbon present in a product in the form of organic, inorganic and elemental carbon.

Total organic carbon (TOC): Quantity of organic carbon present in a product. Total organic carbon is often determined as the carbon that is converted into carbon dioxide by combustion and which is not liberated as carbon dioxide by acid treatment.

Waste: Any substance, mixture of substances, material or object, which the holder discards, intends, or is required to discard.


Sources include: 

- NF EN16575 (bio-based products – vocabulary)

- https://www.european-bioplastics.org/