Campaigners warn that stricter rules are required to ensure that imported “used” palm oil is not virgin palm oil. Airlines hope that this oil will help them power cleaner flights.
Despite increasing demand in aviation, about 80% of the waste oil imported is used to produce biofuels. Around 60% of these imports are from China.
Investigations have revealed fraud cases that suggest a significant share of imported palm oils could be mislabeled as waste. The crop-based biofuels that were once viewed as renewable are now contributing deforestation and worsening emissions. .
The report was commissioned by the Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment. It found that, while European countries tried to curb the use of crop-based biofuels in their vehicles, the demand for waste oils outpaced the supply.
Virgin Atlantic used waste cooking oil as the main ingredient in SAF to power a transatlantic flight sponsored by the UK government.Virgin Atlantic’s flight from last month, sponsored by the UK government, used only sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from waste cooking oil.
T&E expressed serious concerns over the imports. Barbara Smailagic is an expert in biofuels working for the NGO. She said, “Europe is flooded with shoddy used cooking oil.” It’s difficult for European governments to prevent virgin oils such as palm oil from being labeled as waste. To prevent used cooking oil from being a way to facilitate deforestation caused by palm oil, we must have more transparency and restrict imports.
Germany, Ireland and other countries are conducting official fraud investigations. The European Commission also promised to investigate biodiesel from Indonesia that is fraudulent.
T&E stated that while imports of biodiesel from palm oil have decreased by almost 30% the amount of derivatives of this oil labeled as “waste” and “residues”, have increased. These have significant environmental impact.
Smailagic stated: “Europe is always looking for new fuels to burn. Biofuel feedstocks that are sustainable are very limited. “We shouldn’t see biofuels as a perfect solution to our climate problems.”
The report suggests replacing biofuels with electric motors for road transportation and reserving truly sustainable fuels for aviation.
The EU has mandated that airlines use at least 6 percent SAF for their fuel consumption by the end of this decade, and they hope to use even more. Production levels are lower than demand.
The UK doesn’t produce SAF in large amounts yet, but the government aims to have five plants under construction by 2025.By 2030, it wants to mandate that airlines use 10% SAF.
Environmental groups are concerned about the amount of renewable energy required to produce synthetic kerosene.