The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 1, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its Ham Trick (Kinkkutemppu in Finnish) campaign was awarded two prestigious marketing and communications competitions.  The Ham Trick, which is a campaign in which Neste collects and recycles ham waste fat from 100,000 households throughout Finland for manufacturing renewable diesel, won gold at the 2017 European Excellence Awards (EEA) and bronze in the PR category at the Eurobest awards. According to Kaisa Lipponen, Director of Corporate Communications at Neste, ”[t]he prizes are an excellent form of recognition and proof that the campaigns really interest people.”  All proceeds from the campaign are donated to charity.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 24, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that it was the only energy company to reach the Leadership-class ranking in three Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) programs.  Neste received an A- ranking in the CDP Climate, CDP Forests, and CDP Water programs.  CDP is a not-for-profit organization that manages a global disclosure system allowing companies, cities, states, and regions to measure and manage their environmental impact.  The CDP Climate program focuses on corporate measures to combat climate risks and take advantage of low-carbon products and services.  According to Pekka Tuovinen, Neste's Senior Advisor for sustainability, “[t]he more efficiently we operate, and the more we can reduce the climate emissions of our own supply chains, the greater will be the climate benefits of the products and solutions we offer.” 
 
Neste is the only energy sector company to transparently disclose its forest footprint as part of the CDP program.  The Leadership-class ranking demonstrates Neste’s commitment to preventing deforestation in its supply chain and requiring similar action from its raw material suppliers.  Neste continues to work on improving the traceability of various kinds of processing residues used as raw materials beyond what is mandated by regulatory requirements.
 
For the first time, Neste participated in the CDP Water program, which requires companies to disclose the measures they implement for responsible water use and water risk management.  According to Mr. Tuovinen, Neste has been carrying out water footprint calculations for its refineries and products since the 1990s.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 14, 2017, the Royal Academy of Engineering (Academy) published a report on the sustainability pros and cons of biofuels, which was commissioned by the Department of Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  The report aims to provide advice on the future strategy for the development of biofuels in the United Kingdom (UK).  In its statement announcing the report, the Academy stated that biofuels, particularly second generation biofuels from waste and byproducts, have a role to play in meeting the UK commitment to climate change mitigation.  While such biofuels have the potential to be sustainable and make a real impact, the Academy warned that action is needed to manage risks, improve traceability, and avoid fraudulent practice. 
 
The report calls on government to incentivize the development of second generation biofuels in the UK, specifically those derived from wastes and agricultural, forest, and sawmill residues, and to incentivize the use of marginal land, such as land unsuitable for food production or housing, for the production of biofuels.  The Academy also recommended that the government properly regulate the biofuels sector with clear and consistent categorization of wastes and residues to help avoid unintended market distortions within the UK and internationally, and that other sustainability issues, such as competitiveness of biofuels with fossil fuels; food, energy and water security; employment provision; rural development; and human health impacts, be evaluated.


 

On September 25, 2015, EPA published Recommendations for Specifications, Environmental Performance Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Procurement. The notice describes EPA's recommendations for federal agencies that are purchasing environmentally-friendly products. Section 3(i) of Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, directs federal agencies to adhere to certain environmental performance and sustainability standards when practicable. The new EPA recommendations list acceptable environmentally sustainable product brands and service providers that require a procurement preference, including EPA's voluntary program Energy Star®, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Certified Biobased label BioPreferred®, and EPA designated recycled content products, among others.


 

The World Resources Institute (WRI) issued a working paper, "Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land," as part of its series on "Creating a Sustainable Food Future." The paper concludes that using land for bioenergy purposes results in that land not being available for growing food or animal feed, and, as such, urges policy changes that would phase-out bioenergy and biofuel from crops. According to a New York Times article, the WRI report urges governments to reconsider their reliance on biofuels. The Renewable Fuels Association issued a press release in response to the WRI report, stating that the report makes hypothetical predictions but fails to substantiate its claims on competition with food crops and land.