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Biomass

Volume 456: debated on Friday 2 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken on the extent of domestic production of (a) bio-fuel and (b) bio-plastic. (112143)

The DEFRA-sponsored National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) has carried out some research into existing, and proposed future, biofuel production capacity in the UK.

No bioethanol fuel is produced in the UK at the moment, although various plants are currently being constructed or are at the planning stage, which it is estimated could have a total production capacity of over 835 million litres.

Biodiesel is produced in the UK from a mix of feedstocks, including UK-sourced recycled waste vegetable oil and animal fats, oilseed rape, and other imported vegetable oils. Existing UK biodiesel production capacity is now estimated at around 611 million litres, although recently commissioned plants are not yet producing at full capacity.

On bioplastics production, the NNFCC are expanding their knowledge of the UK bioplastic industry, particularly through their recently established Thematic Working Group on Renewable Polymers, which aims to promote and facilitate development of this emerging sector.

At present, there is one UK-based producer of bioplastics derived from renewable feedstocks. This company manufactures flexible films from cellulose derived from wood pulp. There are also a small number of UK companies that use imported bio-based polymers such as poly lactic acid which is moulded and blended for use in many household and industrial applications. In addition, a few small companies produce simple starch-based polymers for use in applications such as packaging, as a replacement for expanded polystyrene.