Verified sustainable ethanol

Prized sustainability pioneer

In 2008, Sekab’s initiative Verified Sustainable Ethanol established sustainability criteria for the first time in order to ensure low climate and environmental impact throughout the whole production chain of ethanol propellants. It was Sekab that developed the sustainability criteria since there was no definition of what was meant by sustainable biofuels.

When E85 fuel took off in Sweden, a debate arose around ethanol questioning both climate benefit and occupational safety on sugar cane farms in Brazil. At the same time, many compared the ethanol used in Sweden with grain ethanol made using old production technology, where natural gas was most often used as an energy source, which results in poorer climate characteristics. Ethanol began to lose credibility.

Sekab created its own verification process

Sekab realised that it quickly needed verification by an independent party of the ethanol it imported. We therefore, in collaboration with Brazilian ethanol producers, developed a process for the verification of ethanol from an environmental and sustainability perspective as well as from a social and ethical perspective.

Verified Sustainable Ethanol made it possible to monitor production all the way from the sugar cane field to the filling station in Sweden.

Objective: international regulatory system

Another goal of Verified Sustainable Ethanol was to promote an international regulatory system for sustainable fuels. In Sweden, the first legal requirements for biofuels came in 2012. By then, Sekab was already at the forefront of sustainability work and was one of the first four companies to receive the Swedish Energy Agency’s sustainability declaration for biofuels and liquid biofuel.

Today there are seven EU-approved certification systems that we comply with and work in accordance with. Sekab complies with the EU’s sustainability criteria and reports to the Swedish Energy Agency.

Our objective in initiating verified sustainable ethanol was to:

  • guarantee Swedish consumers that they are refuelling with good ethanol
  • in close cooperation with the Brazilian sugar cane industry, increase the range of verified sustainable ethanol.
  • influence other countries in Europe to develop systems for quality and sustainability assurance.
  • accelerate the introduction of an international regulatory framework for sustainable biofuels.

Internationally prized venture

At the “Green Power” World Conference in Brussels in 2009, Sekab was awarded the “Sustainable Bioethanol Award” for its work on sustainable ethanol. An independent jury comprising seven international researchers and scientists appointed the winner. The criteria for Verified Sustainable Ethanol were:

  • Zero tolerance towards child labour.
  • At least 85 per cent lower emissions of fossil carbon dioxide compared to petrol.
  • At least 30 per cent mechanised harvest today and a plan to increase the degree of mechanisation to 100 per cent in 2014, where manual harvesting is replaced by combine harvesters to create a better working environment.
  • Zero tolerance towards the felling of rainforest.
  • Rights and safety measures for all employees in line with UN guidelines.
  • Ecological considerations in accordance with the Brazilian industry organisation UNICA’s environmental initiative.
  • Continuous monitoring to ensure that all criteria are met.


Do you have questions or concerns?