Neste Oil uses tall oil pitch; begins rainforest protection plan

By Ron Kotrba | April 04, 2013

Neste Oil has begun using tall oil pitch as a feedstock for renewable diesel production. Neste Oil successfully tested tall oil pitch in commercial refinery operations in March and April and states it is now ready to use the material on a continuous basis. Fuel refined from tall oil pitch will be distributed to service stations in Finland this spring. The company says its original inventions and patents covering the use of tall oil as a biofuel feedstock date back to the 1990s. Neste Oil says moving forward it will use significant quantities of tall oil pitch. Tall oil refiners in Finland produce around 100,000 tons of byproduct tall oil pitch annually.

“Thanks to our research work, we have been able to use tall oil pitch fractions in refining operations for some time; and the recent trial run has now shown that we have the capability to make use of this material on a large-scale basis,” said Lars Peter Lindfors, Neste Oil’s senior vice president of technology. “This represents a further step in our strategy of extending our feedstock base and increasing our use of waste and residues.”

Neste Oil doubled its use of waste- and residues-based inputs in 2012, and the volume of renewable diesel refined from these materials was equivalent to the annual fuel consumption of approximatley 740,000 cars last year, assuming 100 percent renewable diesel is used.

According to Neste Oil, its technology can produce renewable diesel on an industrial scale from more than 10 different types of feedstocks.

In other company news, Neste Oil announced it is beginning a program of close cooperation with The Forest Trust, a nonprofit organization focused on preventing deforestation. Neste Oil states it has committed itself to working proactively to identify concrete ways of preventing deforestation together with palm oil producers and other stakeholders.

“As one of the world's largest buyers of vegetable oil, we recognize the responsibility we bear for the direct and indirect impact of our operations,” stated Simo Honkanen, Neste Oil's senior vice president of sustainability and HSEQ. “Our cooperation with TFT is a natural continuation of our earlier efforts aimed at helping prevent deforestation and developing proactive dialogue with our stakeholders. As a major company in the field, we have a unique opportunity to support the development of sustainable practices in the palm oil production area.”

Neste Oil’s commitment—in the shape of its No Deforestation Guidelines—extends the reach of the company’s existing procurement principles covering renewable raw materials. Under these principles, Neste Oil does not buy palm oil from plantations that have felled forest in contravention of legislation or that have been created in high carbon stock areas. As part of the new initiative with TFT, Neste Oil will give TFT access to all the noncommercial data covering its supply chain and TFT will carry out risk-based audits of the various stages of Neste Oil's supply chain. Based on the results of these audits, Neste Oil says it will be able to solve possible problems more effectively and develop sustainable operating practices together with its raw material suppliers.

“Neste Oil's No Deforestation Guidelines are clear in their commitment to ensuring that its palm oil procurement doesn't drive deforestation, avoids critical peat lands and respects the rights of local communities,” said Scott Poynton, TFT’s executive director. “If a company is going to use palm oil for food, for cosmetics, or for biofuels, it is absolutely critical that it cuts off any link to deforestation. Neste Oil’s Guidelines do that and go beyond.”

TFT is a Swiss-based, global nonprofit organization that helps companies and communities deliver responsible products. Together with international environmental organizations, TFT has helped numerous international companies develop sustainable supply chains.


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