Monday, June 27, 2011

More Big Companies Join RSPO

A couple of recent additions to the growing list of RSPO members are Mars and Walmart. Since these are such large companies, the impact they can make by supporting sustainable palm oil is huge.

With Mars joining, our Halloween candy shopping guide will be much more extensive this year. Mars is best known for making candy like M&Ms and Snickers, but Mars makes many other products like Uncle Ben's rice, Pedigree dog food, and Whiskas cat food.

Since Walmart is a grocery store that carries many brands, they're still going to stock products from non-RSPO companies. What their RSPO membership means is that Walmart is abiding by RSPO rules and regulations regarding the palm oil they use in their own brands such as Great Value and Equate. They have also stated that they will encourage other private brands they carry to join the RSPO.

McDonald's is another company that has recently applied for RSPO membership. Their application is being reviewed, so look for posts in the near future about their membership approval.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Biofuels can be dirtier than fossil fuels

By IBTimes Staff Reporter | May 16, 2011 8:17 PM EDT

Biofuels may pollute the environment much more heavily if the process used to make them isn't done in the right way, researchers say. Conventional fossil fuels may sometimes be much "greener" than their biofuel counterparts, according to a new study.

University Research funded by a pair of U.S. federal government agencies found that taking into account a biofuel's origin is important.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say, for example that conventional fossil fuels may sometimes be the "greener" choice compared with fuel made from palm oil grown in a clear-cut rainforest.

"What we found was that technologies that look very promising could also result in high emissions, if done improperly," said James Hileman, an engineer at MIT who published results of a study with graduate students Russell Stratton and Hsin Ming Wong.

"You can't simply say a biofuel is good or bad - it depends on how it's produced and processed, and that's part of the debate that hasn't been brought forward."
The study was funded by theFederal Aviation Administrationand Air Force Research Labs.

The study includes a life-cycle analysis of 14 fuel sources, which include conventional petroleum-based jet fuel and biofuels which can include biofuels that can replace conventional fuels with little or no change to existing infrastructure or vehicles, according to the report.

Factors used to calculate emissions include acquiring the biomass, transporting it, converting it to fuel and combustion.

"All those processes require energy," Hileman says, "and that ends up in the release of carbon dioxide."

Biofuels derived from palm oil emitted 55 times more carbon dioxide if the palm oil came from a plantation located in a converted rainforest rather than a previously cleared area, according to the report.

Biofuels could ultimately emit 10 times more carbon dioxide than conventional fuel, the report found.

"Severe cases of land-use change could make coal-to-liquid fuels look green," Hileman said. He added that by conventional standards, "coal-to-liquid is not a green option."

The research may have applications for industry as companies consider using biofuels, Hileman says.

One solution could be to explore crops such as algae and Salicornia that don't require deforestation or fertile soil to grown, according to Hileman. Neither requires fresh water.