A crucial criterion for any technical standard, quality assurance, or sustainability certification scheme is credibility. After all, having robust criteria, stringent specifications, and lofty aspirations means little to consumers or end-users if these claims cannot be verified by an independent accredited third party.
In essence, the role of certification bodies – independent organizations that have the necessary competencies and resources – is to assess whether or not an applying company complies with the requirements of the standard or certification scheme in question, or if an existing certificate holder should be revoked or suspended.
Control Union Certifications
One such accredited independent certification body is Control Union Certifications (CUC), part of Peterson and Control Union Group, an international group of companies with a network of offices, operations, and laboratories in over 70 countries.
Launched in 2002, CUC has grown and focused its efforts on developing services around the sustainability of the industry’s supply chains which feed into the food, feed, forestry, biomass, bioenergy, social compliance, and textiles markets.
The company is accredited for a very wide palette of national and international certification schemes including the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), SUstainable REsources Verification Scheme (SURE), Green Gold Label (GGL), Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), ENplus, and International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) to mention a few.
ENplus – the gold standard for quality assurance
Trading over 3.6 million tonnes of wood pellets annually, Denmark-headed CM Biomass Partners (CM Biomass) is arguably one of the world’s largest independent biomass pellet trading companies.
Founded in 2009 as a separate entity within commodity trader Copenhagen Merchants Group (CM Group), CM Biomass currently has around 225 dedicated professionals in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States (US) drawing on relevant competencies within the CM Group for allied services including chartering and finance.
Active trading with Russia ceased in July 2022 in accordance with imposed sanctions.
The company has engaged Control Union Certifications over the last 6-7 years as the certification and inspection body for amongst other things its ENplus certification for premium pellets as Tim Finlay responsible for premium pellets at CM Biomass UK, explains.
CM Biomass works with a variety of clients, from very large producers and utilities to smaller regional producers and distributors, thus trading industrial as well as premium grade pellets. Our business is to provide turnkey solutions to minimize risks for all parties involved. To secure competitive and flexible solutions, we implement multimodal logistical solutions across multiple geographies. These include ships, barges, railways, containers and trucks in bulk, big bags or sacks, said Tim Finlay.
Finlay has a well-rounded experience in the premium pellet sector having worked with one of the UK’s largest pellet producers as well as with a biomass boiler installation company prior to joining CM Biomass UK, one of the country’s largest pellet importers with three bulk pellet receiving sites and a bagging facility.
The seasonal nature of the premium market implies a need for an active role in logistics and warehousing as producers need offtake every month of the year, whereas many buyers only need products during the heating season, explained Tim Finlay adding that CM Biomass does not deal directly with consumers.
For premium pellets – typically used in the residential and light commercial heating sectors – CM Biomass has ENplus A1 “chain-of-custody” certification for the procurement, bagging, and trade of bagged pellets which Finlay sees as a prerequisite for access to the UK and other premium pellet markets.
ENplus is the gold standard when it comes to premium wood pellet quality assurance. Not just the technical standard of the pellet itself but the whole scheme with the implementation of good practices across the entire value chain – production, storage, and distribution said Tim Finlay.
Impartiality crucial for credibility
The impartiality of the certification body is of course crucial for credibility. At the same time, CM Biomass has over fifteen sites of operation along the wood pellet value chain located in Europe, North America, and elsewhere of which four are here in the UK. Therefore, having boots on the ground where we operate too is also important to us, said Tim Finlay referring to the global presence of Control Union Certifications.
ISCC – well-structured for industrial residues
Another international company that has engaged Control Union Certifications services is Switzerland-headed MBP Solutions Ltd.
Founded in 1999 in Denmark as Modern By-Products A/S, MBP Solutions is a global leader in the collection, handling, processing, production, and application of biological by-products and related services.
With an active presence in Europe, the Americas, South East Asia, and the Middle East, the Group provides a wide range of products including; biofuels, bioliquids, substrates for biogas production, soil improvement products, high-quality animal feeds and pet food products; and specialist technical products for a wide range of applications in multiple geographies.
We help companies improve profitability, create new revenue streams, reduce waste, and act more sustainably. From recycling to renewable energy, technical applications, animal feed, or human food, our solutions are tailored to client-specific needs, said Andrew Scully, Group Quality ＆ Sustainability Manager, MBP Solutions.
In addition to conventional by-product collection agreements and ad-hoc volume trading, MBP Solutions offers a novel by-product management service it calls OMBP (Outsourced Management of By-Products).
In many companies, outsourcing non-core activities is a way of reducing the complexity of running the business while maintaining a high level of service and quality. Our OMBP partners outsource the management of their by-products to us, safe in the knowledge that their operational priorities are met and they are supporting the circular economy, said Andrew Scully.
Biogenic by-products and wastes from over thirty different processing plants in Europe and North America, from industries such as fish and vegetable oil refining, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and oleochemicals, are OMBP contracts.
Given the nature of our business, we have several different standards and certification schemes that we work with to demonstrate compliance including the ISCC suite of certifications, Isabella Fat, Group Quality ＆ Sustainability Assistant, MBP Solutions highlighted.
For example, collected and cleaned used cooking oil (UCO) can be supplied as a feedstock for biodiesel production or as an intermediate for distilling fatty acid and glycerol.
Traceability along the value chain, from the point of origin through to the point of delivery, is a fundamental aspect for us. We find the ISCC to be a well-structured system for industrial residue streams with strong documentation and document management systems. At the same time, the regulatory landscape is evolving and becoming more complex. Therefore, we value the open communication, advice, guidance, and support we have with Control Union, ended Andrew Scully.
This article was first published in Bioenergy International no. 3-2023. Note that as a magazine subscriber, you get access to the e-magazine and articles like this before the print edition reaches your desk!