Italy reinforces ENplus® fraud management with “special actions”
The actions have led to more than 52 companies being inspected, and over five thousand tonnes of counterfeit wood pellets being seized by Guardia di Finanza in Italy during the last heating season.
The authorities detected violations in regard to the use of the quality certifications such as ENplus®. It also uncovered fraud cases, in which the pellets produced by some plants were declared with characteristics that did not correspond to authenticity.
The operation was carried out by cross-checking the data in regard to import quantities, national production, sales volumes and the information concerning the certification holders.
The number of interventions made constitutes an unprecedented operation in Europe, helping guarantee the safety of the Italian market - the biggest consumer of premium wood pellets. Biomass represents the first source of renewable energy in the country and the second heating solution for Italian families, especially in times when the gas and fossil fuels prices have increased dramatically.
In Italy, thanks to that specific experience, pellet loads are now inspected on a regular basis, with continuous interventions against counterfeited and fraudulent products (more than 300 tonnes seized only in October).
On the international fraud-fighting side, another concrete example in strengthening the scheme's protection has been the renewal of Bioenergy Europe's annual Application for action with EU Custom Authorities, to prevent cross-border trade of counterfeit ENplus® pellets across all 27 EU member states.
In the past few years, the ENplus® Management has also organised and implemented an annual Market Surveillance Project. The initiative aims to analyse ENplus® certified bags randomly taken from the market in order to assure compliance with the ENplus® standards. The pellet bags collected for this project are traditionally taken from the Italian market.
At both a national and an international level, the ENplus® fraud management has so far identified and solved more than 840 fraud cases all over the world. More than half of the cases solved this year are certificate falsifications. In one out of four cases, the infringement is related to irregular use of ENplus® trademark in marketing operations, and in 1 in 8 cases, to product misuses such as fraudulent use of the ENplus® seal on pellet bags.
"All fraudulent companies that did not cease abusing our trademark are listed on the ENplus® Blacklist, which was visited by more than 20000 users only in the past few months. The certification management also registers a stable growth in the visits of the lists of certified producers, traders, and service providers, which is another way to identify trustworthy suppliers," said a spokesperson from ENplus®.
The new revised documentation of the certification scheme also puts additional requirements to the certified companies to ensure only certified pellets are sold on the market as such.