Frequently asked questions

General

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) is a unique certification scheme designed for woody biomass, mostly in the form of wood pellets and woodchips, used in industrial, large scale energy production. It exists primarily to enable these users of biomass to demonstrate that the biomass is both legally and sustainably sourced and that it meets the regulatory requirements of each European end user, including the ability to collect and report on energy and carbon balance calculations for the full supply chain.

The SBP’s primary aim is to develop standards, structures and processes, together known as the SBP Framework, enabling users and producers of solid biomass for energy production to demonstrate compliance with regulatory, including sustainability, requirements.

The SBP also aims to promote enhanced sustainable forest management and greater uptake of existing efficient and internationally recognised, third-party-verified forest certification schemes in key forest source areas or wood baskets.

There is limited uptake of forest-level certification schemes, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and national standards endorsed by the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), in some key forest source areas (or wood baskets) for woody biomass. In addition, the schemes themselves do not yet cover all the regulatory requirements that users of biomass for energy production must meet, for example, complex issues such as cascading use of wood, indirect land use change and carbon accounting.

Therefore, SBP is working to develop solutions, short-term and long-term, to address both these issues and is in discussion with both schemes on how these challenges might be overcome.

The SBP has developed the SBP Framework which incorporates four areas of certification, namely: certification of the feedstock; chain of custody certification (according to FSC and PEFC schemes); certification of energy and carbon data collection and carriage throughout the supply chain; and certification of the energy and carbon balance calculations. Following a consultation on draft standards, the SBP Framework Version 0.0 was released in September 2014 as a ‘beta version’ for final testing allowing for refinements to the standards and the development of Version 1.0, which was launched on 26 March 2015.

SBP will undertake further revision and refinement of its standards in line with regulatory requirements.

The SBP Framework provides for the collection and carriage of energy and carbon data throughout the biomass supply chain. Furthermore, the Framework enables the calculation of energy and carbon savings achieved by burning biomass in place of fossil fuel sources.

Data on biomass flows will be made available in aggregated form. Information on the supply base evaluation of each certified Biomass Producer will be publicly available.

SBP recognises the importance of emerging topics, such as carbon accounting and cascading use of wood, and that more information is needed on these emerging topics. The data collected and the energy and carbon balance calculations will, over time, help to build up a useful picture of the feedstock characteristics.

To have global applicability in terms of the feedstock used for wood pellet or chip production and to enable the demonstration of compliance with regulatory requirements by users and producers of biomass for energy production.

Compliance and oversight

From January 2019, SBP has been a multi-stakeholder governed organisation. Our governance arrangements bring together stakeholder groups representing civil society interests, biomass producer interests and those of biomass end-users. Read more about our governance arrangements here.

Efforts are being made at all levels within SBP to engage with a range of stakeholder groups. These efforts include civil society, supply chain and expert representation on the Board, Committees and Working Groups, and consultation on Standards revision and all applications for SBP certification.

Regulators and/or national governments set the regulatory requirements and it is for the regulated companies themselves to demonstrate compliance. The SBP Framework is a tool to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements. The feedstock and chain of custody claims are certified by independent, third-party Certification Bodies. Non-compliance will lead to suspension and subsequent termination of certification, as is the case with FSC and PEFC already.