World’s first ecolabelled fuel soon a reality

World's first ecolabelled fuel soon a reality
Two new initiatives for the labelling and certification of biofuels have been presented in Sweden. The move allows for the development of the world's first ecolabelled fuel.

There are two new initiatives; one general label from Nordic Ecolabel and the other from SEKAB for establishing verified sustainable ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane for admixture in E85 and ED95.

Nordic Ecolabel has presented the requirements to enable companies to apply for a Nordic Ecolabel for fuels, commonly known as “The Swan.”

“The Swan” is the official ecolabel in the Nordic countries and was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1989. It can currently be applied for by companies producing products in 66 different product areas.

The Swan label will be used for labelling ethanol, biodiesel, biogas and/or a mixture of these fuels, according to a statement by the company.

“We want to guide the way for future alternative fuels. Nordic Ecolabelled fuels are a much better alternative to petrol than fossil fuels, with proven lower effects on the climate. We also hope to contribute to the development of more sustainable farming and increase the possibilities for better social and work conditions,” said Ragnar Unge, CEO at the Swedish Nordic Ecolabel company.

The Nordic Ecolabel establishes criteria for the entire product lifecycle, from raw material to finished product.

The criteria address reduced emissions that contribute to global warming, set an absolute threshold on CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of the product, restrictions on total energy consumption in production, certified sustainable farming and traceable crops, and defined limitations on the health effects of the fuels.

The Swedish Nordic Ecolabel company has decided to exclude grains as a raw material for fuels in the first version of its criteria as, according to Ragnar Unge, “there is too much uncertainty concerning the use of grains in the global food supply and its use as a fuel.”

The criteria for Nordic Ecolabelled fuel will be revised within a year to allow for the incorporation of new research, EU directives and certifications.

Meanwhile SEKAB has launched the Verified Sustainable Ethanol Initiative with the aim of assuring the quality and the verification of sustainable ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane for admixture in E85 and ED95.

The initiative encompasses environmental, climate and social aspects such as environmental sustainability, zero tolerance of child labour, working conditions, rainforest conservation, respect of labour laws and wage agreements.

“We think it is entirely justifiable that consumers and decision-makers are demanding guarantees that the ethanol we supply is environmentally, climatically, socially and ethically quality-assured,” said Anders Fredriksson, deputy CEO of SEKAB Biofuels & Chemicals.

The SEKAB initiative will arrive at Swedish fuel stations pumps in August 2008.

SEKAB supplies 90 percent of all the ethanol used in heavy vehicles in Sweden (E85 and ED85).

25 percent of all new cars sold in Sweden are so-called flex-fuel cars, normally filled with E85. If the current trend continues then ethanol consumption in Sweden will surpass petrol in eight years.