The growing use of animal fats for the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has raised concerns in Europe, says a study conducted by Cerulogy.
The use of animal fat in biodiesel has grown fortyfold since 2006 and is projected to triple by 2030, in comparison to 2021. Although animal fats are notoriously adopted in pet food and cosmetics, the demand for them in aviation has surged.
Several airlines and business aviation companies, while facing pressure from the public to reduce emissions, have struck deals with oil suppliers for SAF to demonstrate their commitment and efforts to decarbonize the industry. The study from Brussels-based Transport & Environment estimates that a flight from Paris to New York would need 8,800 dead pigs.
However, the use of animal fats and their potential impact on the environment is often neglected. Like any other product, the availability of animal fats is limited because there are not enough slaughtered animals. When animal fat is not available, manufacturers are likely to turn to other replacements and unsustainable materials like palm oil.
In addition, the study pointed out the risk of fraud due to the problematic design of SAF incentives. The European Union (EU) encourages the use of category 1 and 2 animal fats, a certain type of animal fats for transport fuels, by allowing buyers to count for double to meet targets. Thus some fuel manufacturers claimed the purchase of category 1 and 2 animal fats when it was actually those used in category 3.
The downgrading of animal fat category 3 to benefit from double counting is not allowed by EUʼs Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and is counted as fraud.
While government regulations and laws play an important part in the industry’s sustainability practice, lawmakers are suggested to take into account the limited supply of animal fats and investigate potential fraud cases.
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