Project Solaris in South Africa earns RSB certification

Geneva, 1 September 2015 – Project Solaris in South Africa has earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification for the production of the energy rich tobacco crop Solaris in the Limpopo region of SA. Solaris is a nicotine-free and GMO-free crop variety that yields significant amounts of sustainable oil that can be used as feedstock for bio jet fuel.

Project Solaris has involved the RSB from the start to ensure the incorporation of the RSB Standards into the development and up-scaling protocols and to get the operations certified.

The project has brought economic and rural development to the Limpopo province in SA, as well as a new regional bio jet fuel supply chain that is now RSB certified for environmental and social sustainability.

“Project Solaris has demonstrated that it can deliver sustainability on the ground in line with the RSB’s global standard,” said RSB’s Executive Director, Rolf Hogan. “This is the result of a serious commitment to working with local stakeholders, rural development and reducing greenhouse gases while safeguarding Limpopo’s unique natural environment.”

“The RSB certificate is a key factor for our company and development process,” said Sergio Tommasini, CEO of Sunchem Holding. “With RSB, we proved our Solaris technology under different aspects respecting sustainability criteria. Thanks to all partner efforts, we earned this important certificate. RSB believed in our technology and gave us the right advice to improve it during our scale-up programme.”

“Developing a biofuel crop in SA’s ‘breadbasket’ province has, of course, drawn us into the centre of the food vs fuel debate,” said Joost van Lier, Managing Director of Sunchem South Africa. “Having to undergo a systematic process of evaluating the social and environmental ramifications of this development, as prescribed by the RSB, has allowed us to feel confident in promoting Solaris, not only as a financially viable crop for farmers in the region, but also one that will not affect food security or lead to environmental degradation.”

SkyNRG, as one of the main founders of Project Solaris, believes that the RSB standard should play a central role in the aviation sectors’ efforts to develop truly sustainable jet fuel supply, meeting environmental and social safeguards. By receiving RSB certification, Project Solaris is achieving an important milestone for itself and for the aviation industry as a whole,” says Maarten van Dijk, CEO of SkyNRG.

Boeing is a premium sponsor and promoter of the Solaris technology worldwide. Miguel Santos, Managing Director for Africa, Boeing International said: “We applaud South African Airways (SAA) and the South African government for ensuring the sustainability of their emerging aviation biofuel supply chain as it is being developed. This milestone marks a very significant step forward in ensuring positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes for aviation and the planet.”

SAA is a supporter of Project Solaris and the end user of the fuel. Ian Cruickshank, SAA’s Group Environmental Specialist, said: “SAA is a proud member of the RSB and subscribes to the environmental and social sustainability principles enshrined in the RSB standard”.

“This certification ensures that future fuels contribute to reductions in CO₂, are environmentally sustainable and contribute social and economic benefits to our rural economy where it is needed most.”

RSB is recognised by NGOs as the “most comprehensive and ambitious” biomaterials sustainability certification programme in the world. RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.

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