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Project Solaris in South Africa earns RSB certification

Project Solaris in South Africa has earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification for the production of the energy rich tobacco crop ‘Solaris’ in the Limpopo region of South Africa.

Solaris is a nicotine-free and GMO-free crop variety that yields significant amounts of sustainable oil that can be used as feedstock for bio jet fuel.

Project Solaris has involved the RSB from the start to ensure the incorporation of the RSB Standards into the development and up-scaling protocols and to get the operations certified.

The project has brought economic and rural development to the Limpopo province in South Africa as well as a new regional bio jet fuel supply chain that is now RSB certified for environmental and social sustainability.

‘Project Solaris has demonstrated that it can deliver sustainability on the ground in line with the RSBs global standard. This is the result of a serious commitment to working with local stakeholders, rural development and reducing greenhouse gases while safeguarding the Limpopo’s unique natural environment,’ says RSB’s executive director, Rolf Hogan.

Joost van Lier, managing director of Sunchem South Africa, says developing a biofuel in South Africa’s ‘breadbasket’ has – as to be perhaps expected – drawn the company into the food vs fuel debate.

‘Having to undergo a systematic process of evaluating the social and environmental ramifications of this development as prescribed by the RSB has allowed us to feel confident in promoting Solaris, not only as a financially viable crop for farmers in the region, but also one that will not affect food security or lead to environmental degradation,’ he continues.

Managing director for Africa J. Miguel Santos from Boeing, a premium sponsor and promoter of the Solaris technology worldwide, says: ‘We applaud South African Airways and the South African Government for ensuring the sustainability of their emerging aviation biofuel supply chain as it is being developed. This milestone marks a very significant step forward in ensuring positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes for aviation and the planet.’

RSB is recognized by NGOs as the ‘most comprehensive and ambitious’ biomaterials sustainability certification program in the world.

RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.