INRO - Initiative on Sustainable Provision of Raw Materials for the Material Use of Biomass

Duration: 1st Oktober 2011 until 30th November 2014

INRO is a network for voluntary sustainability certification of material use of biomass by the industry, launched by Michaele Hustedt.

In Germany, a mandatory sustainability certification on liquid biomass and biofuels has been in place since 2011. Parallel to the energy shift, the raw material shift has been a defined political goal as well. Today, the German industry already processes almost 3 million tons of agricultural biomass into products. A multiple of this is processed globally, with rising tendencies.

It therefore begs the question of how sustainability certification could be constituted in the material sector.

The „Initiative on Sustainable Provision of Raw Materials for the Material Use of Biomass“ INRO addressed such issues. Founded in 2011, the goal of the Initiative has been to reach an agreement with industrial entrepreneurs on a voluntary certification of renewable raw material from the cultivation through to the primary processing. Until now, no comparable statutory regulation has been proposed, neither on the national nor the European level.

The network comprised of 37 participants. Various companies of different industries were represented, including; chemicals, automobile, packaging, consumer, materials, hydraulic and lubricating, paint and lacquer as well as trade associations (including us, IBB Netzwerk GmbH), German ministries and subsidiary authorities, scientists, environmental and energy associations and German certification systems.

A catalogue of sustainability measures was in place, on which all participants agreed upon. It refers to all industrial use soft commodities, including plant oil, sugar, starch, fats and fibers. Sets of criteria for the protection of the environment (e.g. protection of forests, wetlands, peatery and standards for eco-friendly agricultural activities), social criteria (e.g. no forced/child labour, humane working conditions, respect for the dignity and rights of indigenous people) as well as economic criteria (e.g. anti-corruption measures, transparency) have been determined.

It is essential for the credibility of the certification that it is by no means set arbitrary. Yet, the professional level of the global certification systems is highly diverse. INRO therefore defined “Criteria for a Good Certification System“, in order to hand out advise to companies regarding the selection of their certification systems, and at the same time to provide those systems with suggestions for further development. However, the development of a separate certification system for the material use has not been a component of INRO, since a distinction of what soft commodities might be used for is seldom made during production. Additionally, the setup of a certification system is complex and work-intensive and a double- and multiple certifications would pose an unreasonable demand on farmers, primary distributors, trader and other market participants. This is the way INRO merely attuned already established systems to the material use of biomass.

The INRO initiative flankes the construction of a bio-economy, enacted on the German and European Level.  Germany as well as the European Commission envisaged a bio-economy strategy and the according action plan in early 2012. Of all member states the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark have made major strides in the national implementation, alongside Germany.

Michaele Hustedt of the berlin-based political advisory bureau CPC moderated INRO. Subsidies were provided by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Customer Protection (BMELV) through its lead partner Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR). Log on to www.fnr.de (menu item „Projekt & Förderungen“, project number 22018411) for further information.

Official webpage of INRO is: www.inro-biomasse.de.