EU Science Hub

Getting your hands dirty: A data digging exercise to unearth the EU's bio-based chemical sector


Under the auspices of the EU's bioeconomy strategy, the usage of sustainably renewable biomass for bio-based chemicals is a part-solution for addressing the multidimensional challenges of (inter alia) growth and employment, food and energy security, climate change and biodiversity. Unfortunately, the lack of a formal system of European data classification and collection presents a major obstacle to measuring, monitoring and ex-ante modelling of the bio-based chemicals sector, which clouds the EU’s ability to make sound policy and legislative judgements. Employing a combination of different data sources and plausible hypotheses, this paper seeks to overcome some of these data gaps through the compilation of a meaningful set of market indicators for specific bio-based chemical activities and products. Due to the variety of data sources employed, an uncertainty index that reflects the difficulties of data collection, and its reliability, is associated with each indicator. With limitations, the statistics presented have been used to carry out some first steps to monitor the performance of bio-based industries. As long as official data sources continue to lack adequate information systems, the current paper serves as a spring board for lowering the data 'entry costs' behind this intricate sector, encouraging further knowledge-sharing and serving as a replication template for other regions.