UPM Biofuels, a division of Finnish bio and forestry concern UPM Kymmene, has received a sustainability certificate for the cultivation of Brassica carinata in Uruguay for use as a biofuel feedstock.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification complemented UPM’s existing sustainability certifications, such as the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) and another RSB certification for the firm’s BioVerno biofuel, UPM said in a 15 January statement.

“This is the first RSB certificate in Uruguay and creates new sustainable practices for agriculture,” said UPM Biofuels Development manager of sustainability Liisa Ranta.

The RSB certificate was one of the European Commission-approved voluntary schemes that could be used to prove compliance with the EU renewable energy directive sustainability criteria.

In addition to greenhouse gas savings compared to fossil fuels, RSB principles covered biodiversity, human rights and environmental and social responsibility throughout the value chain, said UPM.

Brassica carinata, also known as Ethiopian rape or Ethiopian mustard, is a relative of the rapeseed plant and a non-edible oilseed crop designed specifically for sustainable biofuel production.

UPM begun developing and testing farming the plant as a secondary crop in South America in late June 2017, meaning that farmers would grow it on agricultural land that laid unused outside of its main cultivation period, mostly during the winter.

“We are developing this sequential cropping concept with Carinata as it provides new feedstock solutions for low carbon biofuels without compromising existing food production,” Petri Kukkonen, head of UPM Biofuels Development, said at the time.

Using this approach would not cause land use change and would benefit farmers by preventing erosion, improving soil quality and providing additional income during the winter months when the farmers have no productive use for their fields.

Carinata-based biofuels reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 70% compared to fossil fuels, according to UPM.