Application of SSbd framework to bio-based product development, lessons to be learned

Main Presenter:    Carolina Villa González 

Co-Authors:   Laura Mayor Pérez     Jose Jorge Espí Gallart                                          

The application of the Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) framework to the development of bio-based products represents a critical paradigm shift in enhancing the sustainability profile of these products. This work explores the key barriers and lessons to be learnt in terms of improving the planning, management, implementation and follow-up of such framework.

The SSbD comprises two stages—design and Safety and Sustainability Assessment—serves as a systematic approach that integrates safety and sustainability considerations into the early stages of product design and during the development itself. In the context of bio-based products, which derive from renewable resources and offer potential environmental benefits, SSbD becomes particularly relevant to address potential pitfalls and optimize the overall sustainability performance. Assessment involves five crucial steps: Hazard assessment of the chemical/material, human health, and safety aspects in the production and application phase and the environmental and socioeconomic assessment along the entire life cycle.

SSbD of bio-based products faces several barriers and challenges that requires strategic solutions. It includes the exclusion criterion for chemicals of concern in the initial step, demanding a restricted evaluation of candidate substances. This reveals the importance of robust risk assessment tailored to the specific characteristics of bio-based feedstocks. Moreover, the dynamic nature of the list of candidates of substances of very high concern poses an ongoing challenge, requiring continuous updates and mechanisms to navigate evolving regulatory landscapes. Finally, improving transparency on data safety and collaboration among stakeholders throughout the value chain is essential, demanding robust mechanisms to protect sensitive information.

Consumer acceptance of bio-based products, is a key hurdle. Understanding and engaging stakeholders throughout the development process is vital for building trust and fostering acceptance within communities. Additionally, uncertainty derived from the potential socio-economic trade-offs must be carefully evaluated in order to restrict subjectivity on the assessment or even obtain biased results and conclusions,

It is unequivocal the numerous benefits of SSbD for bio-based product development, providing a structured approach to address challenges and uncertainties. However, challenges such as the dynamic regulatory landscape, data uncertainty, and socio-economic considerations, need to be to navigated shortening these complexities. Despite of this, SSbD not only provides a means to address current needs and barriers but also contributes to the advancement of sustainable and safe bio-based products, aligning with circular economy principles and global sustainability goals.

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