Sustainability at the Pump Is Here

Biodiesel quality assurance at the retail level is important to the SBA
By Bryan Sims | September 08, 2011

Since 2006, the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance advocated an independent certification system for sustainable biodiesel sold at the pump, and the program is now beginning to take shape. Introduced last year to provide sustainability during music tours, the organization, alongside Small Business Association members in three states, unveiled the first retail locations scored through the program for biodiesel at the pump, marking the first time a sustainability assurance program has been implemented for an alternative fuel at the retail level in the U.S.


SBA business members participated in the new system that scores biodiesel based on a host of requirements that include feedstock type and origin, how the fuel was produced and how far it traveled to the point of sale. These questions and many others determine a numeric score for the fuel that translate into a bronze, silver, gold or platinum rating for biodiesel. The SBA teamed up with Piedmont Biofuels of Pittsboro, N.C., Pacific Biodiesel in Hawaii and SeQuential Biofuels in Oregon where they began offering SBA-scored sustainable biodiesel at eight retail locations in three states in August. In addition to the eight locations, the SBA plans to announce more retail sites across the country throughout the rest of the year.


“We’ve been waiting for a sustainability labeling system for years and we’re delighted that our fuel scored at the top,” says Lyle Estill, president of Piedmont Biofuels. “Not all biodiesel is created equal. Thanks to the SBA, the driving public now has a way to discern the difference between one biodiesel and another.”


According to SBA Executive Director Jeff Plowman, the purpose of the sustainability scorecard was to provide transparency for consumers to make informed decisions when they purchase biodiesel at the pump.


“This scoring tool will help American consumers make informed decisions about their fuel choice, and I’m confident we will see people choosing a more sustainable product,” Plowman says.


While the SBA is still working on an independent third-party certification system, the retail biodiesel scoring system is a first step toward accomplishing this goal. The SBA intends to mirror successful certifiable programs that have taken hold in consumer markets such as the Organic Food Certification and Free Trade Certifications and believes sustainable, locally produced fuel is a natural next step in efforts to drive purchasing decisions toward environmentally and socially friendly products.

—Bryan Sims

 
 
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