Environment 83 Stories

Biofuel – our future

Published

8th Mar, 2013

KLM is convinced that the use of sustainable biofuels is the key to the future of air transport. It is presently the most effective way to reduce impact on the environment, which is essential because we want to keep bringing passengers to their destination. KLM is therefore structurally investing in the development of sustainable biofuel..

One of the main aims of our policy is to reduce our ecological footprint, not only in the air, but also on the ground. We have drafted a Climate Action Plan in which we outline our goal to reduce our CO2 emissions by 20% in 2020, compared to 2009 levels. That means we will keep striving to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment. Because we do not expect to see any major breakthroughs in the fields of solar energy and energy storage (batteries) in the short or medium term, we believe that sustainable biofuel is the best alternative. They will make the biggest contribution to our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

What exactly is sustainable biofuel?

Various types of feedstock (raw materials) can be used to make sustainable biofuel, but we currently use biofuel refined from used cooking oil. This is a sustainable alternative because it ensures a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions and because no additional farmland is required for its production. KLM only uses second-generation feedstock, which has no impact on biodiversity and food production. This is an absolute prerequisite which KLM has laid down in its sustainability criteria. To make sure that we only purchase sustainable biofuel, we follow the advice of the Sustainability Board at SkyNRG, which includes representatives of the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht, and Solidaridad, among others. We also strive to ensure certified processes among our suppliers, as monitored by the Round Table for Sustainable Biofuel (RSB). This organisation guarantees the highest standards in working conditions and environmental care in the biofuel production chain.

Just as safe

Biofuel meets the same specifications at kerosene and is therefore just as safe. It does not require any special adjustments of aircraft engines or airport refuelling systems. However, this does not mean that any airline can simply start flying on biofuel. The production process and fuel specifications must be certified, thereby guaranteeing safety.

Where does biofuel come from?

Dynamic Fuel in the USA is one of the few companies in the world that currently refines biokerosene from oils and fats, including used cooking oil. Moreover, along with SkyNRG, they are currently the only company that has been certified by the Round Table for Sustainable Biofuel (RSB) to supply biofuel for air transport.

That means suitable biofuel is very scarce. By teaming up with partners in the KLM BioFuel Programme and by demonstrating that it is possible to fly using sustainable biofuel, we strive to inspire, stimulate and expand the market for biofuel. This will, in due course, ensure that the cost of sustainable biofuel is comparable to that of traditional fuel. That means our efforts are not only directed at our own organisation, but also contribute to making the air transport industry as a whole more sustainable.

What is the main benefit of using biofuel?

The use of sustainable biofuel results in substantially lower CO2 emissions than ordinary fossil fuel. But just how CO2-efficient is biofuel? Biofuel made from used cooking oil reduces CO2 emissions up to 80%.

Investment and compensation

In 2008, KLM already began inviting its passengers to invest in renewable energy projects by compensating for CO2 emissions from their flight via the CO2ZERO Programme. Since the launch of the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme in 2012, KLM’s corporate customers have also had the option of operating some of their air travel on sustainable biofuel. More and more of our customers are joining the programme, which indicates that they too take sustainable air transport seriously and want to reduce their ecological footprint. Thanks to their support, we can invest in the further development of biofuels and pursue our aim to make our industry more sustainable.

At the forefront

We are proud of our position at the forefront of our industry, setting new standards in corporate social responsibility. Our efforts to achieve greater sustainability have been repeatedly acknowledged by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which ranks KLM (together with AIR FRANCE) as Industry leader in the sector Transport and the best in the airline sector. It is our ambition to keep playing this role in future.

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