Biologically-based. This refers to products that, in part or in whole, contain biomass-derived constituents, that is, that are from non-fossil, biological substances. In Europe "bio-based product" is a product wholly or partly derived from biomass (EN 16575 Bio-based products - Vocabulary) . The bio-based product is normally characterised by the bio-based carbon content or the bio-based content. For the determination and declaration of the bio-based content and the bio-based carbon content, relevant standards have been prepared by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), after a Mandate of the European Commission ( M/492 Mandate addressed to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI for the development of horizontal European standards and other standardisation deliverables for bio-based products

Any chemical compound that is part of the composition of a living organism or derived from substances present in living organisms.

The ability of an organic substance to turn into simpler substances through the activity of micro-organisms (biodegradation). If the biodegradation process is complete, the organic substance is converted entirely into simple molecules: water, carbon dioxide, methane and new biomass.

A plant that recovers energy from the organic fraction of domestic and industrial waste, by a process of biomethanation of organic matter carried out by anaerobic micro-organisms, which leads to the formation of biogas.

An economy that uses biological resources, from land and sea, as the input for energy production, and in industrial (materials), food and animal feed production.

Emissions that originate from natural processes, that, consequently, are not counted among the factors that alter the climatic balances caused directly by man; thus, they are different from direct CO2 emissions of fossil origin.

The aerobic (composting) or anaerobic (biomethanation) treatment by microorganisms, under controlled conditions, of the organic fraction of waste, with the production of stabilized organic residues and methane. Burial in a landfill cannot be considered a form of organic recycling.

Biodegradable and/or bio-based plastic. Bioplastics are a large family of different materials. They comprise of a whole family of materials with different properties and applications. According to European Bioplastics (, a plastic material is defined as a bioplastic if it is either biobased, biodegradable, or features both properties. The family of bioplastics is divided into three main groups:

  1. bio-based or partly bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics such as bio-based PE, PP, or PET (so-called drop-ins) and bio-based technical performance polymers such as PTT or TPC-ET;
  2. plastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable, such as PLA and PHA or PBS or starch blends;
  3. plastics that are based on fossil resources and are biodegradable, such as PBAT.


An industrial plant that applies suitable conversion technologies to biomasses to transform them, in part, into fuel, and in part, into products, such as foods, materials, and chemical substances for the polymer, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, etc.

A model in which all activities, starting from the extraction and production, are organized in such a way as to use renewable resources or recycled materials, creating a system in which the products maintain their function for as long as possible, while keeping waste to a minimum.

The standard reference used to measure the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming (Global Warming Potential - GWP). The contribution of each gas is standardized with respect to the contribution of one CO2 molecule, used as a unit of measurement.

The result of bio-oxidation and humification of a mixture of organic materials (for example, pruning cuttings, kitchen scraps, gardening waste, such as leaves and grass cuttings) by macro and micro-organisms in the presence of oxygen. The compost is used as a nutrient for farmland.

The property of biodegradable organic materials (food and grass cuttings, manure, some types of bioplastic, etc.) of being converted into compost in composting plants. According with European standard EN 13432 a material must possess the follwing four characteristics in order to be considered compostable, namely that it can be recycled through organic recovery (composting and anaerobic digestion):

  • Biodegradability, meaning a material’s capacity to be converted into carbon dioxide (CO2) through the action of microorganisms, under the same process occurring in natural waste.
  • Disintegrability, namely fragmentation and invisibility in the final compost (absence of visual contamination).
  • Absence of negative effects on the composting process.
  • Almost complete absence of heavy metals and the absence of negative effects on compost quality.


The controlled biological decomposition, in the presence of oxygen, of organic waste, from which a rich humus material, called compost, is formed. Composting entails a thermophilic phase, and takes place, on an industrial scale, in special plants.

A set of indicators that make it possible to measure the performance of a certain activity or process.

An objective procedure for assessing the energy and environmental loads of a process or an activity; it is made by identifying the energy and materials used and the waste released into the environment. The assessment covers the whole life cycle of the process/activity/product, including the extraction and treatment of the raw materials, the manufacture, transportation, distribution, use, reuse, recycling and final disposal.

An approach with which the environmental, economic and social sustainability of products, services, technologies and systems are analysed, taking into consideration all phases of the life cycle (extraction of the raw materials, production, use, distribution and end of life).

An agronomic technique for controlling weeds, which entails covering the ground, with the exception of the area where the plant of interest is growing and developing, with an opaque material that stops the sun’s radiation, thereby preventing the growth of weeds. The most common mulching materials are plastic or bioplastic films, paper, layers of straw, layers of bark.

Plants that are able to produce fatty substances and store them inside themselves (for example, in the fruit or in the seeds), which can be used for nutritional and industrial purposes.

The carbon present in those chemical compounds in which it is bound by covalent bonds to atoms of other elements (primarily hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen). The carbon in carbon dioxide, carbonic acid and its salts, for example, calcium carbonate, are excluded from this definition.

The fraction of municipal waste consisting of food scraps and grass cuttings or animal waste that comes from domestic or industrial sources.

Said of those raw materials (starch, oils, cellulose) and energy sources (wind, sun, etc.) that will not run out.

These are the essential elements of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, which were signed, in 2015, by the governments of the 193 member countries of the UN.

Collection of waste by separating it out according to its type, for example, glass, plastic, paper, organic waste, metal, dry residue.

Normally a formal document that uniformly establishes engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices.

Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (source: Standard EN 16575).

In urban and industrial contexts, this indicates the group of technologies and methods for differentiating, collecting, transporting and treating the waste produced by human, industrial and domestic activities.