NEPCon earns first Sustainable Biomass Partnership approval

By Tim Portz | September 09, 2015

The Sustainable Biomass Partnership announced today that they have approved NEPCon’s application to become an SBP certification body, the SBP’s first full approval. NEPCon, a Danish non-profit, conducts certification audits for numerous forestry certification schemes including the Forest Stewardship Council, SAN/Rainforest Alliance and the PEFC Forest Management Standard.

The SBP was formed by industry stakeholders in 2013 to help producers of biomass inputs demonstrate compliance with a growing array of country-specific certification requirements. 

“NEPCon has been through a rigorous approval process, which amongst other things has included the witness by SBP assessors of a NEPCon audit of a biomass producer and SBP’s approval of NEPCon’s audit team through training and examination,” said Peter Wilson, executive director of the SBP.  “Finally, SBP’s independent technical committee undertook a review of the whole assessment process and confirmed a recommendation for approval. On behalf of SBP, I am pleased to confirm that NEPCon’s application is approved."

NEPCon leveraged their current status as an accredited certification body for both FSC and PEFC forest management schemes to gain SBP approval. To gain SBP approval, certification bodies must already be accredited to provide FSC or PEFC certification “We decided to engage in SBP certification because the market for woody biomass is growing fast," said Peter Feilberg, NEPCon executive director. "The impact of this trend on the world’s forests depends on how the biomass is harvested. SBP is about ensuring that it is done in the right way."

Pointing to NEPCon’s robust experience in forest certification, NEPCon biomass program manager Ondrej Tarabus said, “I am very pleased that our competencies and work to fulfil the requirements for SBP certifiers has been recognized by SBP. As a seasoned certification body, we were familiar with similar systems and procedures. Yet, the SBP approval process involved a learning curve for us. In particular, we gained additional insight into the complex world of biomass and energy production.  Now, I am looking forward to delivering the service and developing the SBP program further.”

In order to gain SBP approval, NEPCon had to demonstrate an ability to implement the SBP requirements and completed an SBP-approved training course. NEPCon will be monitored on an ongoing basis and the audits they perform for biomass producers, including pellet mills, will be reviewed by the SBP.

More information on the formation of the SBP, how the program works and the pathway  to approval for certifiers can be found in the feature “Answering the Question”, published in Biomass Magazine earlier this year.