In order to receive public support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels and bioliquids used in the EU must comply with the EU’s sustainability criteria. One way for companies to demonstrate that their biofuels comply with the criteria is to participate in voluntary schemes that have been recognised by the European Commission.
What is a voluntary scheme?
Voluntary schemes verify compliance with the EU’s biofuels sustainability criteria. They check that biofuel production did not take place on land with high biodiversity, that land with high carbon stock was not converted for biofuel production, and that the production of biofuels leads to a sufficient level of greenhouse gas emissions savings. Several schemes also take into account additional sustainability aspects such as soil, water, air protection and social criteria.
For the purpose of certification, the whole production chain from the farmer growing the feedstock up to the biofuel producer or trader is checked by independent auditors.
Schemes are mostly privately run but recognised as valid by the European Commission. Recognitions can last for a period of five years.
How are schemes recognised?
For a scheme to be recognised by the European Commission, it must fulfil criteria such as:
•feedstock producers comply with the sustainability criteria
•information on the sustainability characteristics can be traced to the origin of the feedstock
•all information is well documented
•companies are audited before they start to participate in the scheme and retroactive audits take place regularly
•the auditors are external and independent
•the auditors have both the generic and specific auditing skills needed with regards to the scheme’s criteria