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 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.