What is ISCC and how is it related to biofuels?
ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) is a respected, internationally recognized, multi-stakeholder organization that has developed and oversees the ISCC certification system. This certification system includes all sustainable feedstocks, including agricultural and forestry biomass, biogenic wastes, circular materials and renewables. The ISSC has three different sustainability schemes, ISCC EU, ISCC PLUS, and ISCC CORSIA, which are appropriate for different applications. While each scheme is designed to meet the needs of different international markets, they rely on similar structures and approaches to maintain integrity. ISCC EU is a technical standard with a compliance component which is regulated by EU member states.
What is the interplay between ISCC EU certification and the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and EU Fuel Quality Directive (FDQ)?
ISCC EU certification can demonstrate a company’s compliance with the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive and Fuel Quality Directive requirements for sustainable biofuel, biomass, and bioenergy production. Both directives provide the legal framework for the implementation of renewable energy targets within the European Union. The main criteria of the ISCC EU certification standard are based on the RED and FQD sustainability requirements, but also offer additional social issues requirements that go beyond legal requirements. In addition, ISSC is also recognized by the German Initiative for Sustainable Supply of Raw Materials for Industrial Use of Biomass (INRO), and the Dutch Green Deal in the Netherlands.
Does ISCC EU certification guarantee traceability?
Yes, ISCC EU certification guarantees traceability of biofuels destined for the EU market along the whole supply chain in conformance with established ISCC standards. Certification to the ISCC standard proves the entire supply chain complies with legal requirements for biofuels/bioliquids in the EU and other important energy market.
How can ISCC EU certification provide value to a corporate brand?
ISCC EU certification provides access to growing international markets for non-fossil-based materials and energy sources. It offers third-party verification of a company’s commitment to limiting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts, including labor and land use impacts. While many similar certifications can fall under either a sustainability or a compliance umbrella, ISCC EU is different as the certification addresses both sustainability and compliance within one standard framework. In addition, companies that undergo this certification qualify for financial incentives by meeting EU sustainability criteria for biofuels targets and can access important revenue generation opportunities as their certification opens the door to access European markets which require compliance with EU legislation.
What is ISCC Plus certification and how is it different from ISCC EU certification?
ISCC PLUS is a certification for non-regulated markets (those which fall outside of the European Commission’s RED and FQD such as Japan and the United States) and expands upon the ISCC EU certification by including raw materials not covered in the RED and FQD requirements. Included in the list of acceptable products are bioplastics and mixed plastic wastes, chemicals, agricultural raw materials that are used in food and feed.
Are there specific benchmarks or minimum requirements that need to be achieved in order to receive ISCC EU certification?
The ISCC certification framework is built upon six core principles, under which specific benchmarks and requirements are found. These core principles include:
- Biomass shall not be produced on land with high biodiversity value or high carbon stock. High Conservation Value areas shall be protected.
- Biomass shall be produced in an environmentally responsible way. This includes the protection of soil, water and air and the application of Good Agricultural Practices
- Safe working conditions through training and education, use of protective clothing and proper and timely assistance in the event of accidents.
- Biomass production shall not violate human rights labor rights or land rights. It shall promote responsible labor conditions and workers' health, safety and welfare and shall be based on responsible community relations.
- Biomass production shall take place in compliance with all applicable regional and national laws and shall follow relevant international treaties.
- Good management practices shall be implemented.
What types of companies can become ISCC certified?
Any company seeking to sell biofuel or biofuel precursors into the EU are required to be certified to an EU RED compliant scheme. ISCC is the largest and most developed voluntary scheme that meets the EU requirements.
Is ISCC certification only necessary for selling into the EU Market, or does it help companies sell in other global markets?
ISCC is only required to sell fuel or fuel precursors into the EU, others may choose to carry the certification to demonstrate a verified commitment to sustainability.
What is the European Renewable Energy Directive and do all biofuel and biomass producers around the world have to follow its requirements?
The Renewable Energy Directive comes from the European Commission and sets forth policies and rules for EU member states regarding the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources with a goal to achieve 32% renewable energy by the year 2030. Global producers that interact with the EU market can benefit from ISCC EU certification which specifically complies with these policies and regulations which are a requirement to sell their products in the EU.
What is the European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) and how does that impact an ISCC certification?
Similar to the EU RED, the EU FQD is a strict set of quality requirements for fuels regarding their impact on human health and the environment. Companies certified to the ISCC EU standard are demonstrating compliance with the FQD requirements. The FQD applies only to biofuels used in road transport.
What exactly is sustainable biomass and bioenergy production?
Sustainable biomass is generally considered plant material used as or converted to fuel to produce energy, most often in the forms of liquid fuels, electricity, and heat. Examples are sustainable biomass include wood and waste from forests and energy crops. The terms biomass and biofuel are often used interchangeably. Plant biomass is the raw source of bioenergy and biofuel products. Common uses of biomass are in the production of ethanol and biodiesel.
Are all ISCC audits on-site or can they be virtual or remote audits?
Initial ISCC certification audits are required to have an onsite component. Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, these onsite engagements are designed to be as safe and efficient as possible, with the bulk of the document review performed via an online meeting platform. Once the pandemic subsides, all ISCC audits are required to be conducted onsite annually.