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Biofuels and the environment

Around the world, biofuels vary in the way they are produced, with differing impacts on climate change, the environment and people. New Zealand is working towards ensuring we only produce and access sustainable biofuels both today and in the future.

EECA recognises that not all biofuels are created equal, and we are working on voluntary sustainability reporting to ensure New Zealanders have the right information to enable them to choose sustainable biofuels.

On this page:

Sustainable sources
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Finding out more about the environmental credentials

Go directly to Biofuels Sustainability Information  

Sustainable sources

In New Zealand, the bioethanol in bioethanol blended petrol currently comes from two sustainable sources:

  • Whey, a natural by-product of the dairy industry
  • Brazilian sugarcane, grown in the south of Brazil. Brazilian sugarcane bioethanol is one of the most sustainable biofuels available.

Read a report on the sustainability of Brazilian sugarcane biofuel.

The biodiesel in biodiesel blended diesel currently comes from these sustainable sources:

  • Used cooking oil
  • Tallow, a by-product of meat processing
  • Rapeseed, grown as a break crop (in rotation with other crops)

Read reports and information about these feedstocks.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Using biofuel blends in place of petrol or diesel helps us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Biofuels are better for the environment because they are produced from renewable materials, such as plant and animal matter.

How do biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Ordinary petrol or diesel is made from a fossil fuel (oil) which has been stored in the earth for millions of years. When they are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, and contributes to climate change.

Fuels made from plant or animal feedstocks (biofuels) also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when they are burned. The difference is that the carbon dioxide has been recently absorbed by plants, or by plants that animals eat, before being turned into biofuel feedstock. This makes the combustion process carbon neutral.

As with fossil fuels however, energy is still required to produce, process and transport biofuels. When considering the overall environmental impact of biofuels, greenhouse gas emissions from these processes need to be included.

How do I know the biofuels I'm buying are sustainable?

Sustainability reporting set up by EECA enables biofuel producers and retailers to explain what feedstock has been used to make the biofuel, where that feedstock comes from, and the greenhouse gas emissions created during the production, processing and transportation of that biofuel.

This allows consumers to compare the environmental impact of the biofuel blend against a comparable equation for petrol or diesel, and one kind of biofuel blend against another.

Go to Biofuels Sustainability Information.