Voluntary schemes

Voluntary schemes

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

Voluntary schemes and GHG emission default values in the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme

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. Better Biomass

10. RSPO RED (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil RED)(Expired 14/12/2017)

11. Biograce GHG calculation tool ​(expired 21/06/2018)

12. HVO Renewable Diesel Scheme for Verification of Compliance with the RED sustainability criteria for biofuels (expired 30/01/2019)

13. Gafta Trade Assurance Scheme

14. KZR INIG System

15. Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops

16. Universal Feed Assurance Scheme

17. U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP)

Related documents on approved voluntary schemes

List of approved national schemes

The European Commission also recognises national biofuel sustainability schemes that have been notified to the Commission by EU governments.

Approved national schemes

Austrian Agricultural Certification Scheme