New EWABA Member Novozymes sees positive outlook for waste-based biodiesel

As interest in low-carbon biofuels gains momentum, the European Waste-based and Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA) continues to grow stronger with more members. Novozymes is the latest company to join the organization, helping to add to the 37 organizations who operate in 20 European members states. EWABA met with Robert Lindström, global marketing manager at Novozymes, to discuss the development of waste-based biodiesel in Europe and the role of bioprocessing to decarbonize transportation.

Who is Novozymes?

Novozymes is the world leader in biological solutions and our enzymes are used in many familiar industries such as household detergents, brewing, and baking. Sustainability is part of our DNA. We calculate that the enzymes that we supply to various industries achieve global CO2 savings of 87 million tons per year. Regarding biofuels, for many years our focus has been on bioethanol from starch-based and cellulosic biomass. Biodiesel is a more recent development for biotechnology. The first biodiesel plants using enzymes were set up in North America some ten years ago and since then the industry has started adopting this technology with 30 enzymatic plants operating globally in 2021.

What are your expectations on EWABA?

Let’s start from the premise that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels is necessary to avoid serious impacts of climate change to the environment and human health. Novozymes believes that shifting to renewable sources of energy such as biofuels is an essential element to achieve this. As new members of EWABA, Novozymes will support the development of science-based policies and initiatives to limit global warming through the use of waste oils and advanced biofuels. Transport is one of the toughest sectors to decarbonize and no single technology can solve the problem alone. By working with EWABA, we hope to support science-based policy development in the transport area that evaluates technologies and energy sources on a level playing field and full life cycle assessment basis.

What is your view on the future of waste-based and advanced biodiesel in Europe?

RED II certainly provides an EU-trajectory towards sustainable feedstocks, but differing national approaches and delayed updates to country-level policies can provide a hurdle to understanding the long-term outlook for the industry. Most producers maintain a positive outlook for biodiesel FAME demand, with 2030 levels expected to be the same or higher than 2019 levels. And whilst the marine, heating and other non-road transport sectors will grow in importance, the road transport sector is thought to provide the largest additional demand volumes.

The main challenge moving forward to 2030 will be feedstock related with a pronounced shift towards waste feedstocks. In this respect RED II, and its likely impact on national policies, is the key driver of change. However waste feedstocks present many difficulties for processers such as variable quality, the need for expensive pretreatment, disposal of residues, and water effluent treatment. Biodiesel production sites will need to find flexible solutions to tackle the oncoming feedstock challenges. All in all it’s a positive outlook but not without its challenges.

How can you support the waste-based biodiesel industry in Europe?

The role of feedstock flexibility in meeting RED II mandates is becoming increasingly clear. This will lead to an inevitable divide in the European FAME biodiesel market, between those producers who continue with traditional feedstocks, and those who respond to RED II with enhanced feedstock flexibility, and remain competitive in these rapidly changing markets. Bioprocessing allows producers to make their feedstock decisions based on availability and costs, rather than be constrained by processing ability. Novozymes’ FlexFit® technology integrates world-class process technology, innovative biotech and all-inclusive services into a single solution supported by a proven approach and backed by guarantees. FlexFit® will support biodiesel projects from conception to completion and continuous operation and today it is used in more than 30 biodiesel plants worldwide. 

Lastly, how can our members get in touch with you?

Novozymes participate at industry conferences, and I am personally never more than a phone call away to help EWABA’s members get started with a feasibility study to assess the modifications required for revamping an existing plant into an enzymatic transesterification biodiesel unit enabling processing of waste-based and advanced feedstocks of varying quality and FFA content.   

Robert Lindström, Global Marketing & Business Development Manager - Biodiesel

May 2022

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