The cascade use principle is currently pushed forward by various actors as a promising concept to secure renewable raw material supply and a more resource efficient use of biomass, in the context of circular economy and bioeconomy.
The Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), the European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives (Copa-Cogeca) and the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO) raised their concerns already in 2013, reflecting on the consequences the cascade use approach could have in practice for forest owners, wood energy and the forest sector as a whole.
The European forest owners fully support resource efficiency and a further strengthening of the bioeconomy and high value use of wood, but do not support the cascade principle, being a top-down concept enforced by whatever EU policy, which defines the use and value of wood and wood-based products in a hierarchical manner. Biomass suppliers (including forest owners) must continue to have the possibility and freedom to decide to whom they sell their raw material.
This position has been shared by the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee in their opinions on the EU Forest Strategy, where they clearly oppose the prioritisation of industrial use of wood (as promoted by the cascade principle) and instead support resource efficiency and an open market approach.
Taking into account the current discussions within the European institutions in the context of the circular economy and the bioeconomy, CEPF, Copa-Cogeca and ELO wishes to reiterate their position by bringing forward additional new arguments. All three organisations have serious doubts that the implementation of the cascade approach will support the Commission and stakeholders to achieve the new Commission priorities regarding the creation of jobs, growth and investment, as well as an overall reduced bureaucracy.
To increase the competitiveness of the EU forest and rural sector, the European Commission should promote and support effective actions at EU and national level. These actions should focus on improving logistics, building and enhancing existing infrastructure, promoting active and sustainable forest management, mobilising small-scale forest owners and boosting further innovation, research and technology development in the field of forest production, smart harvesting technologies, sustainable mobilisation and an increased, resource efficient use of wood.
The further detailed joint statement can be found below.