SAF taking off in Brazil with Boeing, RSB, WWF collaboration

June 22, 2019 |

Boeing announced a big bucks $1 million investment into the Brazilian bioeconomy, working with WWF and RSB. But these three amigos aren’t big cowboy movie stars from the silent era, but like the comedic Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short, these three powerhouses realize that working together gets a heck of a lot more done than working alone.

This investment and collaboration will focus on identifying suitable feedstocks and supporting small-scale farmers across the country achieve RSB certification for the production of biomass for alternative fuels. The project will also support a diversification of production that will fuel the broader regional bioeconomy.

Project specifics

The three organizations will start the project by identifying small communities of farmers in Brazil with the most promising potential to provide biomass for SAF production. The producers will then be certified using sustainability indicators that drive social benefits such as income generation, solid labor practices and food security. Groups of small farmers that produce sugarcane and macaúba oil in southeast Brazil have already been certified by RSB in recent years, with Boeing’s financial support.

This $1 million investment provides an additional layer to the Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy project – a partnership between RSB and WWF and powered by Boeing’s Global Engagement portfolio. The project aims to help the aviation industry play a leading role in tackling the threat of climate change, creating jobs, stimulating economic growth, developing rural livelihoods and protecting the environment.

RSB’s take

“Boeing aims to develop a truly sustainable aviation industry that will maximize the environmental, social and economic benefits of the bioeconomy – and RSB’s approach to sustainability will be key in guiding this investment,” according to RSB. “RSB’s approach to sustainability has been developed by a multi-stakeholder group of industry, business, NGOs and civil society and is widely acknowledged as a uniquely credible and practical solution for growing a sustainable bioeconomy.”

Travelling on an RSB-certified fuel also guarantees a minimum of 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring that key issues like deforestation, food security, water quality, land and human rights have been taken care of.

What’s WWF role?

WWF is integrated in the aviation and biofuel space with their involvement with SkyNRG – Jenny Walther-Thoss from WWF serves as a member of SkyNRG’s independent Sustainability Board. WWF was pretty excited about the KLM, SkyNRG and SHV Energy work towards the world’s largest stand-alone sustainable aviation fuels project, as reported in The Digest in May.

In this case, however, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) will be working with RSB to ensure sustainability in feedstock options and farming practices in order to increase the capacity for sustainable production for the aviation sector.

There’s some long history coming into play here. Boeing has played a key role as an RSB member in developing this approach and has collaborated with RSB and WWF on various projects over the last 6 years to advance the growth of a truly sustainable aviation industry in Brazil and globally.

“By ensuring that their investment in the bioeconomy in Brazil is anchored in the best-in-class sustainability of the RSB standard, Boeing is helping to grow an aviation industry that creates jobs and boosts the Brazilian economy without negatively impacting food security, biodiversity, land access or water rights and security,” according to RSB.

Boeing’s take

This latest investment builds on Boeing’s long-standing commitment to supporting and developing Brazil’s aviation and aerospace ecosystem through education and training programs, research and development initiatives and industry partnerships, as reported in The Digest last week.

This ain’t no small potatoes. Building the next generation of aviation and aerospace talent is a key focus for Boeing’s community investment around the world. As the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide.

A bit of background on Boeing’s work in Africa before Brazil – From 2016–2018, Boeing Global Engagement provided three years of grants to South Africa’s micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses to help them participate in the emerging green economy and build a local, sustainable aviation fuel market.

These grants were also awarded to the World Wildlife Fund in South Africa and the Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials in Geneva, Switzerland, to help them evaluate the impacts of sustainable fuel feedstocks and engage with small farmers to build capacity and integrate sustainability into their operations.

The funding led to a better understanding of the most promising African locations for additional biomass to support the production of sustainable aviation fuel. It also laid the foundation for scaling up sustainable aviation fuel production.

You can read more on Boeing’s 2019 Environment Report here.

Reactions from the stakeholders

Brazil is a biofuel powerhouse and we believe this leadership can also translate into benefits for small farmers and communities who are at the forefront of the multi-feedstock supply chain that can support biojet fuel production in the country,” said Marc Allen, senior vice president of Boeing and president of Embraer Partnership & Group Operations.

“Over the past 10 years, Boeing has invested more than USD 2 million in community projects in Brazil,” said Allen. “Brazil is a leader in the global aerospace industry and Boeing is committed to working with our local partners to ensure it remains at the forefront of innovation for generations to come.”

“Boeing’s commitment to ensuring real and credible sustainability in the growing bioeconomy has seen them play a hands-on role in Brazil and beyond for many years,” said RSB’s Executive Director, Rolf Hogan. “This new piece in the puzzle reaffirms that commitment and we are looking forward to working with farmers, business, industry, government and other stakeholders in shaping this latest investment in growing a strong and sustainable bioeconomy which will create opportunities for all as we win the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.”

Bottom Line

A beautiful trifecta of cooperation – Boeing, RSB and WWF.

RSB’s hard work for many years to move aviation fuels forward in terms of sustainable goals is coming to fruition.

WWF’s vision of making one of the transportation industry’s largest carbon emitters per passenger a bit more planet friendly is being realized.

And of course, Boeing in all its large global gloriousness is making it all come true with implementation in the real-world.

It’s nice to see organizations walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It’s like the Three Amigos movie where fantasy becomes reality, and working together helps make things happen that can’t be done alone.

And we expect more…Boeing gave a heads up that the company expects to make an announcement about further investment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in Brazil in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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