Termination of Certificates in Russia and Belarus

All SBP certificates in Russia and Belarus were suspended on 8 April 2022. As a result, it has not been possible to source SBP-certified biomass from either country since that date.

In May, SBP announced that it was transitioning to a new assurance service provider, ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). ANAB has confirmed that due to the ongoing geopolitical situation it cannot provide services in Russia and Belarus, which means that approved SBP Certification Bodies will not be able to carry out SBP audits in Russia and Belarus.

Due to the lack of auditing and independent oversight thereof, it is unlikely that the existing suspensions will be lifted in the short to medium term. Under these conditions, SBP certification in Russia and Belarus cannot be maintained and all currently suspended certificates will be terminated by 15 August 2022.

SBP will maintain necessary communications with all affected stakeholders and continue to monitor the situation. SBP also 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.

SBP Launches Public Consultation on Principle 3 of Draft SBP Standard 1

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched a public consultation on Principle 3 of draft SBP Standard 1: Feedstock Compliance.

Our Standards Development Process is designed to facilitate an open, inclusive and constructive sharing of views amongst our stakeholder community. At the request of our Standards Committee, we are conducting a public consultation focusing on Principle 3, Biomass sourcing contributes to climate change mitigation.

The objective of the public consultation is threefold:

  1. To inform stakeholders of the status of Principle 3;
  2. To gather expert input and suggestions to ensure clarity of the requirements; and
  3. To identify the need for the development of specific guidance for Principle 3, once the Standard has been approved.

The consultation is accessible via the Feedback Platform, please use the platform to provide your feedback and comments. The consultation closes on Thursday, 30 June 2022.

ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) Launches Assurance Program for SBP

Following agreement with its current assurance services provider, Assurance Services International (ASI), SBP is preparing to transition to the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). SBP has worked with ASI as a valued assurance partner since 2016.

Already well-recognised internationally, ANAB is (amongst other things) a signatory of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) multilateral recognition arrangements. The IAF is a worldwide association of accreditation bodies and other bodies involved in conformity assessment across a number of fields, providing assurance that certification in the market place is a reliable tool. As SBP prepares for expansion into new geographies, ANAB will help manage the risks associated with the geographic growth strategy.

The transition to ANAB is expected to be completed by mid-July 2022. SBP is providing full support to its Certification Bodies throughout the transition to ensure that there is no loss of service to any of its Certificate Holders.

More on what the transition means for SBP’s Certification Bodies and Certificate Holders is available on the SBP website here.

Extending the Validities of the Regional Risk Assessments for Denmark and Latvia

SBP has today announced that the validities of the Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) for Denmark and Latvia have been extended to coincide with the end of the transition period for the forthcoming, revised SBP Standards (v2).

SBP-endorsed RRAs remain valid for a period of five (5) years from the approval date. Both the RRA for Denmark and the RRA for Latvia were first published in 2017, consequently both are due to expire this year.

Our Standards Development Process is expected to complete in the second half of this year, culminating in the publication of a set of revised Standards. A transition period will follow allowing time for Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements; at the end of the 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.

Mindful of the implications of the Standards Development Process on existing SBP-endorsed RRAs, the SBP Secretariat proposed extending the validities of the two RRAs to coincide with the end of the transition period of the revised Standards. In accordance with the SBP RRA Procedure1, a proposal was submitted by the Secretariat to the SBP Technical Committee seeking a recommendation for such an exception. The SBP Technical Committee agreed with the proposal and submitted a recommendation for approval to the SBP Chief Executive Officer. The recommendation was approved on 2 May 2022.

Notes:
1 SBP RRA Procedure, version 1.2, Section 8.

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”.

Notes
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.