July 23, 2021

Note: The following information is only relevant for ISCC EU system users. It does not have any effect on ISCC PLUS or ISCC CORSIA supply chains.

According to the European Commission (EC) there is currently no voluntary scheme officially recognised under the RED I (DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC).*

This means that all former recognitions of voluntary schemes under the RED I are obsolete as of 1st July 2021. Accordingly, the EC has informed all Member States by letter of 10 July 2021 that “for a certain transition period of time there will not be any formally recognised voluntary scheme under article 30 (4) of RED II” (please click here for the official letter). The EC will publish this letter in the coming days on the EU website.

At the same time, the EC has informed Member States that a number of voluntary schemes have successfully passed the preliminary assessment for the formal recognition under the RED II. These schemes are technically compliant with RED II.

ISCC EU is one of these technically compliant schemes and can be applied for all transactions of certified material demonstrating compliance with the sustainability and GHG emissions savings criteria of the RED II.

The EC has also clarified to Member States that they can accept evidence from these technically compliant schemes as long as there is no formal decision by the EC.

The EC has confirmed that they “expect the recognition of the first voluntary schemes under the recast directive to happen in the short term”. This is an adjustment to the prior statement by the EC that the official recognition of voluntary schemes will only be possible after the final adaption of the implementing act on certification**.

We will keep you informed on any further developments.

With kind regards,

Your ISCC Team

* Text from the website of the EC:

”Voluntary schemes help to ensure that biofuels are sustainably produced by verifying that they comply with the EU sustainability criteria.

As such, the schemes check that

  • production of biofuel feedstock does not take place on land with high biodiversity
  • land with a high amount of carbon has not been converted for biofuel feedstock production
  • biofuel production leads to sufficient greenhouse gas emissions savings

Several schemes also take into account additional sustainability aspects such as soil, water, air protection and social criteria. For the certification process, an external auditor verifies the whole production chain from the farmer growing the feedstock to the biofuel producer or trader.

While the schemes are run privately, the European Commission can recognise them as valid.

Voluntary schemes under the recast Renewable Energy Directive

Under the recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001, the EU sustainability criteria are extended to cover biomass for heating and cooling and power generation. EU countries were required to transpose the new rules by 30 June 2021 and the voluntary schemes have to adjust the certification approaches to meet the new requirements.

Interested voluntary schemes are invited to apply for recognition by the Commission under the new sustainability framework. More information about the recognition process can be found in the call for interest and the updated assessment protocol.

Recognition criteria

For a scheme to be recognised by the European Commission, it must fulfil criteria such as

  • feedstock producers comply with the sustainability criteria
  • information on the sustainability characteristics can be traced to the origin of the feedstock
  • all information is well documented
  • companies are audited before they start to participate in the scheme and retroactive audits take place regularly
  • the auditors have both the generic and specific auditing skills needed with regards to the scheme’s criteria

Recognition for a voluntary scheme can last for a period of 5 years.

Approved voluntary schemes

The European Commission has so far not recognised voluntary schemes under the Recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001.

The Commission has received applications for recognition under the directive from the following voluntary schemes:

Biomass Biofuels voluntary scheme(2BSvs), Better Biomass, Bonsucro EU, International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC EU), KZR INiG system, REDcert, Red Tractor Farm Assurance Combinable Crops & Sugar Beet Scheme (Red Tractor), Roundtable of Sustainable Biofuels EU RED (RSB EU RED), Round Table on Responsible Soy EU RED (RTRS EU RED), U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol EU (SSAP EU), Scottish Quality Farm Assured Combinable Crops (SQC), Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC), Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS), Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) (only fpr certification of forest biomass), Sustainable Resources (SURE) voluntary scheme, and European Renewable Gas Registry (ERGaR) (only for certification of cross-border trade of biomethane).

The Commission has made a preliminary positive assessment of the following voluntary schemes:

2BSvs, Better Biomass, Bonsucro EU, ISCC EU, KZR INiG, REDcert, Red Tractor, RSB EU RED, RTRS EU RED, SQC, TASCC, UFAS and SURE.

The Commission expects the recognition of the first voluntary schemes under the recast directive to happen in the short term. The recognition of the schemes by the Commission is not a pre-requisite for certification. EU countries may accept evidence from voluntary schemes that are not recognised provided they provide the required assurances. In order to avoid market distortions, such recognition is advisable in the transition period.”

** Implementing Regulation (EU) on rules to verify sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria and low indirect land-use change-risk criteria (under public consultation until 27 July 2021, click here for further information).