Diverting pine chemistry co-products towards biofuel ‘does not further reduce greenhouse gases’

Results of a third-party peer-reviewed life cycle assessment (LCA), entitled Greenhouse Gas and Energy Life Cycle Assessment of Pine Chemicals Derived from Crude Tall Oil and Their Substitutes, has found diverting crude tall oil (CTO) into biofuel production throughout Europe will not have a significant effect in either reducing carbon emissions nor fossil fuel consumption.

CTO is a sustainable raw material that has been used in biorefining to produce pine chemicals for decades.

The study, conducted by Franklin Associates, a division of Eastern Research Group, and sponsored by the American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Pine Chemistry Panel found:

  • The global carbon footprint of pine chemicals produced from CTO is 50% lower than substitute products used in the same situation
  • CO2 equivalent emissions will be essentially the same if CTO is used as a fuel or in chemical products in Europe
  • The amount of fossil fuel required to manufacture the substitute products of pine chemicals substantially offsets any fossil fuel reduction that might occur if CTO were used in fuel.

‘This study proves the pine chemicals industry makes a positive contribution to achieving the twin bioeconomy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption,’ says Kevin Moran, director of chemical products and technology division at ACC. ‘It provides a baseline of solid, scientific evidence for policymakers to consider in the debate around the use of CTO as a raw material for biofuel.’

Industries compete in the marketplace to purchase CTO, a co-product of papermaking and a constrained resource. Government mandates and subsidies incentivising use of this finite biomass material in fuels damage the pine chemical biorefining industry by limiting CTO availability.

The study demonstrates that while there are no significant environmental gains from doing this, at the same time it could cause unintended negative consequences to the innovative, established pine chemicals industry, which manufactures hundreds of consumer products that add value to society.

‘The logical conclusion from this study is that with no real net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions or fossil fuel consumption gained by diverting CTO into biofuels, there is no benefit in redirecting its use,’ observes Charlie Morris, CEO of the Pine Chemicals Association. ‘In fact, the legislation and tax dollars incentivising CTO use in fuels will place huge amounts of capital at risk, reduce innovation, destroy jobs, and will accomplish no tangible environmental benefit.  The pine chemicals industry strongly advocates for a level playing field with impartial financial access to CTO.’

‘The LCA results prove that otherwise well-intentioned policies can cause harm to essential industries,’ Moran adds.

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