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
List of approved voluntary schemes
The European Commission recognises a number of voluntary schemes that demonstrate compliance with the sustainability criteria for biofuels. Schemes may adopt their verification procedures but must notify changes that might be relevant to the Commission, such as changes in auditing procedures. The Commission assesses the changes to establish whether the schemes still adequately cover the sustainability criteria. The scheme documents on this web site, however, are not updated in order to keep a reference to the status of the schemes at the time of their recognition; updated documents are available on the scheme websites linked above.
1. ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification)
2. Bonsucro EU
3. RTRS EU RED (Round Table on Responsible Soy EU RED)
4. RSB EU RED (Roundtable of Sustainable Biofuels EU RED)
5. 2BSvs (Biomass Biofuels voluntary scheme)
6. Red Tractor (Red Tractor Farm Assurance Combinable Crops & Sugar Beet Scheme)
7. SQC (Scottish Quality Farm Assured Combinable Crops (SQC) scheme)
8. Red Cert
9. NTA 8080
10. RSPO RED (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil RED)
12. HVO Renewable Diesel Scheme for Verification of Compliance with the RED sustainability criteria for biofuels
14. KZR INIG System
Overview table on regional cultivation emissions (NUTS values)
Letter to the voluntary schemes concerning transparency measures
Letter on tracing the origin of waste and residues used for biofuels to avoid fraud
Overview table including information on updates for recognised voluntary schemes
Letter to the voluntary schemes with guidance how to verify protection of highly biodiverse grasslands
Note on the conducting and verifying actual calculations of GHG emission savings
Standard values for emission factors
Letter on reporting requirements for voluntary schemes
Data reporting template
Letter to the voluntary schemes concerning the Implementation of the ILUC Directive
Assessment Protocol template
Voluntary schemes overview table
List of approved national schemes
The European Commission also recognises national biofuel sustainability schemes that have been notified to the Commission by EU governments.