Chairman’s message

/Chairman’s message

Chairman’s Introduction to BBIA


Andy Sweetman

At the time of writing, August 2016, just over a year has passed since the BBIA was established. Thank you all for continuing to consult this website and to react to the work being undertaken by BBIA.

Here are some thoughts on this first year and on the work as we move forward.

Inevitably with any start-up a lot of time and effort has been spent on getting the mechanics right. Those involved will recall the three meetings to establish the BBIA held between February and June 2015; the reviewing of the Articles of Association both by members and lawyers; depositing of the same and establishment of the Limited Liability Company; the election of the Board in June 2015; the nomination of the MD; the long process to open a bank account; registration of the website address and creation of the site itself; choosing a company to provide back up support to the BBIA in terms of accounting, secretarial services, communications support, outreach, events organisation; production of brochures and materials; organisation of our first events; invoicing to new members; creating an accounting system.

All this took a lot of time and was essentially managed by our MD with the support of the Treasurer and myself, and oversight from the Board.

The Board has been constantly involved in the process of establishing the association and I would like to thank them all for their continued involvement.

The Board established two Working Groups in its April 2016 meeting to unite members around the two pillars of BBIA lobby work: waste management and industrial biotechnology, led by Tony Breton and John Williams respectively.

Influencing the political process towards bioeconomy policies

BBIA has been very active in its work to influence policies, both in the UK and EU. The shock of the Brexit vote has yet to be absorbed and the period leading up to it on June 23rd and the aftermath have contributed to slowing any activities. Nevertheless, life goes on and BBIA will continue to push for industrial biotechnology policies in the future.

In the first year BBIA’s Board decided that the association should focus upon two pillars of policy: waste management and industrial biotechnology. David Newman was asked to lead the first and John Williams the second. A Working Group has been established for both of them, the waste management group is now active under Tony Breton’s leadership.

BBIA has participated in work being undertaken by WRAP (Food Waste Collection Committee), Defra (on carrier bags policies), Zero Waste Scotland on food waste and digestate quality, BIS (now BEIS) on investments and policies for bioeconomy. These activities have resulted in the publication of one important report in October 2015 on the potential of bioplastics for the UK economy, presented at the House of Lords; on a plenary meeting held at the University of York on 28th April on industrial biotechnologies; in exchanges with the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee; in meetings at the House of Lords; in frequent meetings and exchanges with BEIS and KTN; in participation in the EU proposal on the Circular Economy package re-presented in December 2015; and in frequent meetings with Treasury officials on financing bioeconomy investments. Further, John has been appointed lead of the IBLF Finance Committee and both Tony and David are active in the BSI in two committees relevant to our sector.

Has this first year’s activity led to any concrete changes benefiting our members? Certainly the intervention on the carrier bags policy has had significant benefit for members operating in this sector. By allowing the 5p tax to be considered “a good cause” when used to subsidise the purchase of compostable bags re-used in food waste collection, our members can compete on a level playing field with traditional plastic bags.

On a slightly different note, much work was also undertaken this year in joining funding proposals in Europe. Of the five proposals BBIA joined one was awarded a Horizon 2020 grant (Res Urbis, total value €3,3 million) in which BBIA organises the stakeholders platform; and another project (Waste2Chemicals) was not funded but is in the reserve list, for a value of €8 million. This will give the Association a lot of work to undertake in the coming years but also provides some degree of financial stability.

To conclude, BBIA is continuing to keep up the pressure by meeting with officials, proffering policies, speaking in events (now mostly nationally) regarding waste management and industrial policies. Although we are a small Association, our voice is constantly heard in these fora over and above our relative weight.

Membership has risen from the original 7 Founder Members to 20 as of the time of writing.

Present and Future activities

On policy we are maintaining our focus on two areas; waste management and industrial biotechnologies. Policy activities will focus mainly on BEIS where a bioeconomy strategy is being elaborated- the last Minister did not have time to report on findings made during the February to May period before Brexit and the change of Government. A new consultation with industry in September will hopefully give Minister Greg Clark the material he needs to push forward some basic policies over the next year or two. BBIA will be feeding into these.

Brexit means we will have to focus domestically. We cannot afford any more the time or expenditure on the work so far undertaken in Brussels although a good outcome on the Circular Economy package there is also critical for the resource UK industry.

The potential of the UK markets for our members is huge- the policies needed to make that jump are not difficult to envisage but will certainly face continued opposition from vested interests and also indifference from the financial sector that does not yet understand the potential.

It is the role of BBIA and its members to strengthen the association, bring in new members, participate in the meetings with Government officials, push the bioeconomy agenda.


Andy Sweetman