Sustainability- Introduction of a sustainable biomass verification scheme

Rules for guiding stakeholders to establish an acceptable management for collecting biomass for energy are necessary. That is why WBA presented a collection of sustainability criteria globally already at COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010 in a position paper on certification criteria.

This Positionpaper was based on 2 reports:

-  Certification Criteria for Sustainable Biomass for Energy (Report 026, ISSN 1654-9406, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)

-  Biomass for Energy versus Food and Feed, Land Use Analyses and Water Supply (Report 022, ISSN 1654-9406, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences).

Both of these draw on the very many research papers published across the subjects of the reports, and analyse and summarise the overall conclusions. The certification criteria should be used as a guide for accrediting the sustainability of Biomass for Energy. After checking that the criteria are met, the cargo will get a document of WBA sustainability Accreditation under development.

To help provide a clear frame of reference on which to base its activities the WBA commissioned production of reports on a number of key aspects of biomass to energy within a global perspective. The research partner is the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The Swedish Board of Agriculture has funded the research project. The project has produced three reports one on potential and the others on sustainability. The first report was:

- Global Potential of Sustainable Biomass for Energy (Report 013, ISSN 1654-9406, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). WBA has produced a position paper with the same title based on this report.

Now WBA have introduced the next step in the process: The SUSTAINABLE BIOMASS VERIFICATION SCHEME. The verification scheme should be used as a manual for accrediting the sustainability of Biomass for Energy. The manual will guide how to check that the criteria are met and the producer of biomass for energy will get the WBA sustainability logo. The logo for WBA sustainability is under development.

The role of verification processes in this report is to participate in creation of a global market for bioenergy and biofuels. The minimum universal criteria were developed after comparing the standards, principles, criteria and indicators developed by the existing and emerging voluntary standards around the world.

Instead of creating a totally new verification scheme, we comply with existing or upcoming standards. By doing this, the meta-standard scheme is build on existing experiences in better management practices and roundtables, with international consultation.

The goal of the following verification scheme for biomass is to secure the sustainability criteria for biomass, the supply of biomass in a sustainable way with clearly defined and consistent quality for specific purposes. So, the scheme requires at least:

The traceability of the resources that are produced and managed in a sustainable way

The evaluation of the energy consumptions

The evaluation of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Biomass quality specifications

To guarantee a consistent scheme the processes that are necessary for the production and logistics of biomass will be verified in the scope of this scheme – as a result, aspects of product verification will be combined with those of system verification.

The other major issue is that sustainable production of biomass must be shown to not reduce production or availability of food, fibre and water, or of living space and living standards for rural and indigenous people. Clearly, for the sustainable and equitable production and transport of biomass and biofuels to be done on an extensive scale there must be effective internationally recognized monitoring and verification schemes in place.

For more information please download the SBVS Scheme:

SLU Report: Biomass for Energy vs Food and Feed, Land Use Analyses and Water Supply

SLU Report: Certification Criteria for Sustainable Biomass for Energy