ASI Suspends Certification Body, Forest Certification LLC

Assurance Services International (ASI) has suspended Certification Body, Forest Certification LLC (FC) for Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) certification services in Russia, with effect from 18 November 2021. Details of the suspension may be viewed here. Publication of the suspension decision was put on hold pending an appeal lodged by FC. The ASI Appeal Process found in favour of the suspension.

During the suspension period, FC shall not issue any new certifications or scope extensions, and shall not enter into new agreements for certification. However, FC shall continue to conduct surveillance audits for existing clients during the period of suspension. Read more about the impact of suspension on Certification Bodies and Certificate Holders here.

SBP Publishes its Annual Review for 2021

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today published its annual review for 2021. The review is available here.

Commenting on the events of 2021, Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer, said: “With COVID-19 restrictions still very much in evidence during 2021, the new ways of working we embraced the year before continued and our operations were unaffected.

“I am pleased to report that there was no deterioration in the assurance provided by our certification scheme, giving all stakeholders confidence in the SBP claim and the associated promise of good biomass.

“We saw another year of growth in our Certificate Holder base. By the end of the year, our Certificate Holder number had increased to 353, representing a 12% increase on 2020. Our geographic reach also increased with the addition of Guadeloupe, Martinique and the United Arab Emirates, taking the number of countries with an SBP presence to 33.

“At 16.70 million tonnes (2020: 14.95 million tonnes), the volume of SBP-certified biomass in the market place increased for the fourth consecutive year since our records began. We also increased our share of European industrial pellet consumption market1 to 82.5%, up from 76.8% in 2020.

“The wide range of data that we collect also gives visibility on exactly what is used to make wood pellets and chips. Our verified data for 2021 reveals that the vast majority of feedstock used in the production of biomass came from low grade roundwood that was not merchantable as sawtimber, and sawmill and wood industry residues.

“We made good progress in what was the second year of our three-year work plan to deliver our strategy, and delivered on our three key priorities for the year of core systems development, external recognition and presenting the case for SBP certification.

“We reached a milestone in our Standards Development Process, which saw the culmination of the Working Groups’ input. A significant piece of work that spanned a period of some 80 weeks, during which time around 90 stakeholders spent almost 3,000 hours in over 180 meetings, with many hours of preparation, discussion and follow-up in addition.

‘We were accepted as an ISEAL Community Member, joining a growing number
of well-respected voluntary certification schemes that are driving positive social
and environmental change across multiple sectors.

“And our Standards received a preliminary positive assessment against the biomass sustainability requirements of the recast EU Renewable Energy Directive (REDII).

“Our efforts to inform policy and the biomass debate were focused on the EU policy agenda. Through our EU engagement programme we continued to build relationships across
the EU Institutions, positioning SBP as a key stakeholder.

“Finally, we successfully strengthened our technical team with the recruitment of Nicolas Viart as our Technical Director and László Máthé as our Standards Manager. Between them bringing considerable knowledge and experience to SBP”.

1 Industrial pellet consumption in Europe data supplied by Hawkins Wright (2021 industrial pellet demand estimates for Combined Heat and Power, and dedicated power). Europe refers to Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France (and French territories), Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom and Other EU27.

Update on SBP Certification Operations in Russia and Belarus

SBP has expressed its condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine. We remain gravely concerned by the unacceptable actions directed against that country and its people, which are entirely at odds with our values and those of our stakeholders. We have previously warned of the impact these actions, and consequential sanctions on trade and transport activities, as well as disruption to the finance sector, will have on the supply and certification of SBP-certified biomass from Russia and Belarus.

The combination of current circumstances, the already actioned and pending withdrawals of services from key technical and operating partners mean we are unable to ensure the integrity and continuation of certification of SBP-certified biomass originating in Russia and Belarus. SBP is therefore notifying suspension of SBP certificates in Russia and Belarus from 8 April 2022. This means that once suspension becomes effective woody biomass can no longer be sourced in Russia and Belarus as SBP-certified.

SBP will maintain communications with all impacted stakeholders and reiterates its commitment to supporting and certifying good biomass from all parts of the globe, where it is in line with our values and technically and operationally possible to do so. We will be monitoring the situation and providing further updates as circumstances require.

Please note that a separate communication will be issued shortly with further detail.

SBP Certification Operations in Russia and Belarus

SBP condemns the invasion of Ukraine. The consequences of military action and decisions to be made as a result are, and will be, far reaching, and have humanitarian and economic impacts, as well as implications for European energy security. Failure or loss of auditing, assurance and certified feedstocks in combination with sanctions on trade and transport activities as well as disruption to the finance sector will impact the supply and certification of SBP-certified biomass.

We recommend that SBP Certificate Holders monitor the situation and take precautionary measures as appropriate. We are currently assessing our position relative to the continuation of certification operations in Russia and Belarus. We continue to closely monitor and assess developments in conjunction with our stakeholders, service providers and recognised certification schemes. We will advise on any changes to our current operations in due course.

SBP Publishes Draft REDII Documents

SBP has published the suite of draft REDII documents that, in conjunction with our current Standards, have received a preliminary positive assessment from the European Commission under the recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2011 (REDII).

The Commission expects the recognition of the first voluntary schemes under REDII to happen in the short term. Further updates to the draft SBP REDII documents will be necessary following adoption of the implementing acts on voluntary schemes and forest biomass. Therefore, the status of the documents will remain ‘draft’ until full recognition is received.

The draft documents have been published to allow time for Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies to familiarise themselves with the REDII requirements and plan for their implementation.

SBP will host an information webinar on 16 February from 14:00 to 16:00 (UK time) for Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies. Please register here.

The SBP technical team will be on hand to provide support to all parties, as necessary.

REDII Update

SBP has today announced that the application for the approval of its current Standards under the recast EU Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001 (REDII) has received a preliminary positive assessment from the European Commission.

The Commission expects the recognition of the first voluntary schemes to take place in the short term.

The SBP REDII Instruction Document is now being finalised and will be made available to Certificate Holders in January 2022.

Looking ahead, SBP has sought the views of its certified European End-users on how best to address the REDII requirements in its revised Standards, which will be published next year. Several models are under consideration.

Having heard from the European End-users, SBP is now consulting its certified Biomass Producers and Traders. Biomass Producers and Traders are invited to complete a short survey, which should take no longer than 15 minutes. Any feedback will be extremely helpful in finding the best way to serve those Certificate Holders wishing to conduct business in REDII-regulated markets.

To get involved, please follow the relevant link below.

Biomass Producer survey link:
Trader survey link:

The deadline for responses is Wednesday, 12 January 2022.

SBP Welcomes New Technical Director

SBP has today announced the appointment of Nicolas Viart as Technical Director. Nicolas will take up the appointment from 1 January 2022.

A senior sustainability professional with extensive agriculture and international supply chain experience, Nicolas has proven technical and strategic competencies in advancing sustainable agendas. Through the development and management of complex projects, Nicolas understands the challenge of tackling complex issues, creating momentum, trust and achieving goals for lasting and thriving communities and businesses.

Nicolas has considerable experience of working with sustainability certification. Prior to joining SBP, Nicolas spent ten years with Bonsucro, a global membership organisation promoting sustainable sugarcane production, processing and trade, where he played an instrumental role in the growth of the organisation to become the leading certification scheme in the sector.

Nicolas joined Bonsucro as its Head of Sustainability and after five years was promoted to the role of Director, Standards and Innovation. Key amongst his responsibilities were overseeing the maintenance of Bonsucro’s three standards, recognition of the standards by the European Commission and the Netherlands’ regulatory body, strengthening the certification and accreditation systems, and developing the impact evaluation and reporting system, in particular in relation to carbon accounting.

Nicolas started his career in the dairy industry, with a focus on quality management, technical specification and compliance audits, before moving on to the seafood industry, including two years at the Marine Stewardship Council, a leading global certification scheme for sustainable seafood.

Commenting on Nicolas’ appointment, Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer, said, “I am delighted to welcome Nicolas to SBP. Nicolas brings with him a wealth of experience that will complement and strengthen the skill set of the Secretariat.

“Nicolas joins us at a critical time in the Standards Development Process as we plan the roll-out of our revised Standards. I am confident that, amongst other things, Nicolas will be influential in implementing our revised Standards in an efficient and timely manner”.

SBP Publishes Response to Public Consultation on Revision Draft v1 of the SBP Standards

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today published the Standards Development Process Working Groups’ response to the public consultation on Revision Draft v1 of SBP Standards 1 to 6.

In the response document, each of the comments received during the first public consultation is presented along with a response summarising how the comments have been taken into account in the development of Revision Draft v2 of the Standards.

The public consultation on Revision Draft v2 is now open and all stakeholders are invited to participate. All documents are available via the Feedback Platform; please use the platform to submit your comments. The consultation closes on Wednesday, 24 November 2021.

SBP Launches Public Consultation on Revision Draft v2 of the SBP Standards

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched its public consultation on Revision Draft v2 of Standards 1 to 6.

Our Standards Development Process is designed to facilitate an open, inclusive and constructive sharing of views amongst our stakeholder community. This is the second and final public consultation on proposed revisions to our suite of six Standards and is the outcome of many hours of stakeholder participation.

In this public consultation, SBP is seeking stakeholder feedback on Revision Draft v2 of:

• Standard 1: Feedstock Compliance
• Standard 2: Feedstock Verification
• Standard 3: Certification Body Requirements
• Standard 4: Chain of Custody
• Standard 5: Collection and Communication of Data
• Standard 6: Energy and Carbon Balance Calculation

In addition to Revision Draft v2 of the six Standards, we have also published an updated Glossary. Our Response to Consultation, which sets out the feedback received from the first public consultation and our response, will be published shortly.

All documents are available via the Feedback Platform, please use the platform to provide your feedback and comments. The consultation closes on Wednesday, 24 November 2021.

SBP Publishes Updated Regional Risk Assessment for Estonia

SBP has today published the updated Regional Risk Assessment (RRA) for Estonia. RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating risks associated with sourcing feedstock for woody biomass pellet and chip production.

In accordance with the SBP RRA Procedure, SBP-endorsed RRAs remain valid for a period of five years from the approval date. The RRA for Estonia was first published on 22 April 2016 and consequently its validity expired on 22 April 2021. In the light of the ongoing Standards Development Process, it was decided to conduct a minor update of the RRA for Estonia with a focus on those indicators where new data had become available. In line with the RRA Procedure, the original RRA has remained valid up to today’s publication of the minor update.

The Standards Development Process currently underway is reviewing each of the SBP Standards. Standard 1 is the foundation of the SBP RRAs and any revisions to that Standard will trigger the need to update all existing SBP-endorsed RRAs.

Following publication of the revised Standards, scheduled for the end of 2021, there will be a transition period allowing time for Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements. From the end of that transition period it will be mandatory for all Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements. The RRAs will require updating in line with the revised Standards and that will be undertaken in a timely fashion within the same transition period, such that complying with the requirements of the updated RRAs will also be mandatory from the end of the transition period.

In addition to the minor update, the validity of the RRA for Estonia has been extended to coincide with the end of the transition period for the revised SBP Standards (v2.0).

In June 2021, SBP sought stakeholder feedback on the proposed minor updates and the extension of the validity of the RRA. The updates and the extension were subsequently recommended by the SBP Technical Committee and formally approved by the SBP Chief Executive Officer. A response to consultation has been published alongside the updated RRA; both documents may be viewed at: