Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Germany wants more sustainable biomass

Sustainable biomass production is a way to go in years to come, and Germany is one of the countries making push for more sustainable biomass production. It has been reported that German chemical companies alone use around three million tons of raw plants in their production processes each year.

The demand for plant matter continues to grow almost each year, and the production process, if not done in a sustainable matter, can lead to negative consequences for environment. Palm oil plantations, are often the negative examples, as people cut rainforests to make more room for biomass production which not only destroys ancient forests but also leads to massive biodiversity loss.

In October 2013, the list of German industrial companies settled on a new list of criteria for sustainable biomass production which include not only land use but also planting and harvesting methods for biomass crop. Each of these criteria needs to be met in order for biomass production to be considered sustainable.

There are 25 different ecological criteria such as ban on rainforest destruction and protection for biodiversity valuable savannah areas. These criteria also oblige the protection of soil integrity by for instance avoiding  the nitrate leaching.

The criteria is set but these standards are yet to be put under practice.  The plan for German companies is that lubricants and plastics produced in Germany will be tested and certified under the agreed biomass sustainability criteria starting from this year.

These are of course voluntary standards as there is still no law that would oblige German companies to obey these criteria. Obeying all these criteria should likely lead to increase in prices of many products as it has been calculated that a ton of sustainably-produced palm oil costs some $40 to 50 more than non-certified palm oil.

The further goal is to develop new technologies that would enable both cost-effective and sustainable biomass production