The Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (“BBIA”), which represents the interests of members producing such products in the UK, has today announced that David Newman, its current Managing Director, will be stepping down from his leadership of the organisation from 1st September 2023 and that Dr Jen Vanderhoven has been appointed to guide the next phase of the association’s development.

David founded BBIA in 2015 and has led its development since then. Starting with just seven members, the association has since grown rapidly to over 35 companies producing biobased and biodegradable materials. The products are being used across the globe, in films for packaging, coffee pods and catering ware, lubricants, insulation materials, and speciality chemicals. During his time at the head of BBIA, David has significantly raised the public profile of the association and the understanding by policymakers of the role of bio-based and biodegradable products. His work was pivotal to achieve notable successes for the association, such as the Food Waste Coalition, that was instrumental for lobbying Government for universal food waste collection.

Jen graduated from The University of Sheffield with a first-class Masters of Biological Sciences in 2004 and a PhD in Biochemistry in 2007. With over 20 years of a progressive biotechnology career spanning both higher education and the commercial sector, Jen has held roles in research and development, sales and marketing, business development, and business change and transformation. Throughout her career, she has led and successfully executed a wide portfolio of transformational projects dedicated to both internal and external engagement including public relations, development, government liaison and organisational development. In 2017, Jen authored the UK National Industrial Biotechnology Strategy to 2030, alongside the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum, and has recently been working on a 12-month study for UK Government, looking at the role of biomass in the production of biochemicals and biomaterials.

BBIA Chairman Andy Sweetman commented: “We thank David for his sterling work in taking the association from its formation in 2015 to becoming a leading voice in the UK biomaterials sector. As David retires from this role, we are delighted to have Jen take on the baton. She brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role and we look forward to working with her.

David said: “I leave BBIA with a heavy heart, but it is time to pursue other interests, focussing upon activities in the European Union.  I am proud to have helped the industry grow so much in the UK but disappointed that the current Government has so far failed to grasp the opportunities for economic growth and climate change mitigation, that the use of biomaterials offers. As the USA, China and the EU mandate the use of biomaterials, it is sad to see the UK once again left behind. I trust Jen will be able to influence policy in a more positive direction and offer my help and advice whenever needed. I would like to thank the Board and BBIA members for their support and thank all those who have been advocates for a circular bioeconomy in these years.

Jen added: “The world is on fire, literally. The summer of 2023 has seen unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires across Europe and the US, as well as the hottest day ever recorded globally in July, with temperatures that would not have been possible without human-induced climate change. We simply cannot afford to keep digging up fossil fuels and releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The use of biodegradable and biobased materials is a key solution that can help mitigate the global boiling that we are experiencing now. Biobased materials can replace or complement traditional materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote a more circular economy. However, it is not until the UK Government creates the right regulatory and fiscal environments that the use of biobased materials can become mainstream and out-compete current fossil-based products. I am therefore delighted to be joining BBIA at such an important time for the association and the future of our planet. I look forward to working with Andy and the Board to drive positive change for the biobased materials sector.

For further information, contact:

Jocelyne Bia
Communications Consultant, BBIA
t: +44 (0)7910 878510