Verified sustainable ethanol – for sustainability throughout the production process

Since there are no defined criteria for sustainable biofuels, SEKAB drew up its own sustainability criteria: the Verified Sustainable Ethanol Initiative, launched in 2008. These strict criteria guarantee climatic and environmental benefits throughout the whole production chain.

Verified sustainable ethanol

As E85 became a common fuel alternative in Sweden, a debate on ethanol arose and called into question climate benefits and labour protection issues at Brazilian sugarcane plantations. At the same time, many people compared ethanol used in Sweden with old production techniques for cereal-based ethanol, which normally used natural gas as an energy source and had poorer climatic characteristics. Ethanol began to lose credibility and SEKAB saw the need for third-party verification of the ethanol we imported. Considering the long-drawn-out legislative process, we took it upon ourselves to set up an ethanol verification process based on environmental and sustainability as well as social and ethical perspectives.

SEKAB created its own verification process

In 2007, in collaboration with a number of ethanol producers in the São Paulo area of Brazil, SEKAB started up a massive project aimed at developing a verification process. Periodically, several people worked full-time on the project that would make it possible to ensure that ethanol was sustainably sourced.

The results became evident in 2008 when SEKAB, after an eighteen-month effort, launched the Verified Sustainable Ethanol initiative that made it possible to follow production all the way from sugarcane field to filling station in Sweden.

One of the major objectives of the Verified Sustainable Ethanol initiative was to establish an international regulatory framework for sustainable fuels. The first legislative requirements for biofuels used in Sweden were issued in February 2012. SEKAB was already well advanced in sustainability efforts and was among the first four companies to be granted Swedish Energy Agency’s Sustainability Decision for biofuels and bioliquids. Today, we comply with and follow seven EU-approved certification systems.

The initiative garnered an international prize for sustainable ethanol

At the 2009 “Green Power” World Conference in Brussels, SEKAB was awarded the “Sustainable BioEthanol Award” for its work on sustainable ethanol. An independent jury comprising seven international researchers and scientists led the highly competitive selection process.

Sustainability criteria for verified sustainable ethanol

  • Zero tolerance for child labour
  • At least 85% reduction of fossil carbon dioxide as compared to petrol
  • At least 30% mechanised harvesting today and a plan to increase the degree of mechanisation to 100% by 2014
  • Zero tolerance for the felling of rainforests
  • Employee rights and safety in line with UN guidelines
  • Ecological considerations in accordance with UNICA’s Environmental Initiatives
  • Continuous monitoring of compliance with the criteria

Why Verified Sustainable Ethanol?

  • To physically ensure Swedish consumers that they are filling up with good ethanol
  • To increase the supply of verified sustainable ethanol in close collaboration with the Brazilian sugar industry
  • To influence other European countries to develop systems for quality and sustainability assurance
  • To hasten an international regulatory framework for sustainable biofuels