Voluntary schemes help to ensure that biofuels are sustainably produced by verifying that they comply with the EU sustainability criteria. As such, the schemes check that:
- production of biofuel feedstock does not take place on land with high biodiversity
- land with a high amount of carbon has not been converted for biofuel feedstock production
- biofuel production leads to sufficient greenhouse gas emissions savings
Several schemes also take into account additional sustainability aspects such as soil, water, air protection and social criteria. For the certification process, an external auditor verifies the whole production chain from the farmer growing the feedstock to the biofuel producer or trader.
While the schemes are run privately, the European Commission can recognise them as valid.
Voluntary schemes for the period after 2020
Under the recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001, the EU sustainability criteria are extended to cover biomass for heating and cooling and power generation. Member States are required to transpose the new rules by 30 June 2021.
The Commission plans to adopt a number of regulations to provide guidance on the implementation of the new sustainability criteria and to update the EU rules for voluntary schemes. Existing voluntary schemes recognized by the Commission will be required to adjust their certification approaches to the new rules.
The Commission plans to start the process of recognition of the voluntary schemes for covering the revised sustainability criteria during the first half of 2020. Further updates and information on the process will follow.
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 have both the generic and specific auditing skills needed with regards to the scheme's criteria
Recognition for a voluntary scheme can last for a period of five years.
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 below.
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
10. RSPO RED (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil RED)
11. KZR INIG System
List of approved national schemes
The European Commission also recognises national biofuel sustainability schemes that have been notified to the Commission by EU governments.
- Overview table on updates for recognised voluntary schemes (July 2019)
- Overview table of pre-ILUC Directive NUTS2 cultivation emissions values (July 2018)
- Recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001
- Note on the conducting and verifying actual calculations of GHG emission savings (2017)
- Letter to the voluntary schemes concerning the Implementation of the ILUC Directive (18 November 2015)
- Letter on reporting requirements for voluntary schemes (1 September 2015)
- Letter to the voluntary schemes concerning transparency measures (12 March 2015)
- Letter to the voluntary schemes with guidance how to verify protection of highly biodiverse grasslands (29 January 2015)
- Assessment Protocol template (2015)
- Letter on tracing the origin of waste and residues used for biofuels to avoid fraud (10 October 2014)
- Voluntary schemes and GHG emission default values in the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme (2010/C 160/01)
- Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC)
- Standard values for emission factors
- Data reporting template