Monday, February 26, 2024
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Environment Agency softens HVO stance and sponsors study

The Environment Agency (EA) is working with the Sustainability Supply Chain School to set out the risks and benefits of using HVO.

We reported last September that the agency, part of the government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), had put the use of HVO on its projects under review because of concerns that it is not always as environmentally friendly as advertised.

Contractors told us that they had been told that they must stop using HVO fuel on EA sites by 30th September.

An industry debate ensued, with some contractors, including Balfour Beatty and VolkerWessels, banning HVO from their sites until its sustainability has been proven. Some of it may come from the back doors of fish & chip shops and be a genuine waste product, but the suggestion was that growing demand for HVO was contributing to deforestation in Southeast Asia and South America.

“There is a high risk that the resulting increase in demand for used cooking oil is causing deforestation and the draining of peatland and marshland in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia where farmers are having to grow palm oil to produce animal feedstock,” said a Balfour Beatty position paper.

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The Environment Agency has now decided that, so long as the provenance is verified, HVO can be used.

To help ensure that only ‘good’ HVO is used in the UK, it has signed up as a sponsor for production of what will effectively be the construction industry rule book for HVO.

The best practice guidance is being produced for the Supply Chain Sustainability School by Action Sustainability, the consultancy business owned by the directors of the school.

“Our aim is to produce an objective and unbiased guide that will enable our members and partners to make an informed decision should they wish to purchase HVO,” said James Cadman, head of consultancy and both the school and its business arm.

He said that work was starting with the next four weeks but until timescales had been agreed with the steering group was not yet able to give an expected publication date.

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