Molasses and EU renewable energy directive

According to the ILUC Directive adopted in 2015 – that will be the EU regulatory framework on biofuels until 2020 – biofuels made from molasses are classified as food-based biofuels.

This means that, until 2020, there will be a limit on the use of biofuels made from molasses, given the concerns on the displacement of molasses from food and feed to biofuels.

However, the European Commission proposal on the Recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (November 2016) seeks to promote the use of molasses for biofuels. This proposal is currently under discussion in the European Parliament and the Council.

According to this proposal, molasses will have the same status as waste materials such as used cooking oil and its use for biofuels will be favoured through a specific blending target.

As the EU already needs to import more than 1 million tonnes of molasses each year, there won’t be enough molasses to cover additional demand for biofuels that would be triggered by the mandatory blending target.

As a result, the use of molasses will shift from food and feed to biofuels.

While we fully support the objective of increasing the share of biofuels to make our transport more sustainable, this should not be done at the expense of the raw materials widely used in food and animal feed.

Promoting molasses for biofuels through specific targets will:

Run against the food material hierarchy and circular economy principles, according to which high added value uses of raw materials in food and feed should be favoured over bioenergy.
Be in contradiction with the EU objectives to promote advanced biofuels which are not made from food and feed crops. Promoting molasses-based biofuels as an alternative to food-based biofuels is deceiving and will tarnish the credibility of EU policy on biofuels for the coming years.

Hinder the competitiveness of the European food, feed and bio-economy sectors, such as the European yeast and fermentation industry, which heavily relies on molasses for the production of food and feed products. That would result in increased imports of yeast and citric acid from third countries, putting at risk the existence of many jobs in the sector.

Deprive the feed industry of an important feed material which, for its nutritional and anti-pelleting properties, is not easily replaceable.

For this reason, we ask EU policy-makers to remove molasses from Annex IX of the Commission’s proposal for the revised Renewable Energy Directive.