"Consumers and other stakeholders need guarantees that the ethanol is verified sustainable," says Anders Fredriksson, EVP of SEKAB BioFuels & Chemicals.
SEKAB has together with progressive Brazilian producers developed criteria that cover the entire lifecycle of ethanol from the sugarcane fields to its use in flexi-fuel (FFV) cars.
The criteria are in line with demands highlighted in the ongoing processes being led by organisations like the UN, EU, ILO and a number of NGOs.
The requirements have zero tolerance for child labour, non-organised working conditions (slave labour) and the destruction of rain forests. There are also requirements concerning working conditions, labour laws and wages.
Harvesting is to be at least 30 per cent mechanised today and this will increase to 100 per cent by 2014.
In terms of the climate, the demands will result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from farming, production and transport by at least 85 per cent compared with gasoline.
An independent international verification company will audit all production units twice a year to ensure the established criteria are met.
"This initiative is the first of its kind in the world and a major step for speeding up the replacement of gasoline and diesel," says Anders Fredriksson. "The criteria will gradually be developed over the coming years and synchronised with international regulations when these are in place."
SEKAB delivers about 90 per cent of all ethanol in Sweden for E85 and ED95 (ethanol for heavy vehicles).
"The first harvest of sugarcane for verified sustainable ethanol has just begun," explains Anders Fredriksson. "Over 100 000 Swedish owners of E85 cars can begin filling up with verified sustainable ethanol in August."