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Sustainability criteria for biofuels

Biobased petrol and biobased diesel sold under the biofuels mandate must meet the sustainability criteria for biofuels.

What are sustainability criteria for biofuels?

The sustainability criteria for biofuels help mitigate unintended environmental impacts from the expected higher demand for biofuels as a result of the biofuels mandate. The sustainability criteria are prescribed in the Liquid Fuel Supply Regulation 2016.

The sustainability criteria include:

  • a greenhouse gas criterion that requires unblended biofuels, regardless of the feedstock, to deliver greenhouse gas savings of at least 20% when compared to regular petrol or diesel
  • and
  • certification under the relevant environmental sustainability standard, which varies depending on the feedstock used to produce the biofuel.

The overview of the sustainability criteria (PDF, 272KB) provides further information about the criteria and standards.

Email with any questions about the sustainability criteria.

What does this mean for fuel retailers and wholesalers?

Fuel retailers or wholesalers need to show that biofuels sold meet the sustainability criteria through quarterly reporting. Evidence will need to be produced, if requested.

Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that supplied biofuels meet the sustainability criteria, if these are reported against mandate liabilities. Contractual arrangements with biofuel suppliers are one way of ensuring you are sourcing sustainable biofuels. Evidence of the steps taken to verify those contractual arrangements will need to be produced, if requested.

Greenhouse gas criterion: life cycle assessment

In August 2016, the Queensland Government commissioned a life cycle assessment, Greenhouse gas and sustainability footprints of current and future biofuels for Queensland (PDF, 5.3MB), to help determine the greenhouse gas criterion set under the Regulation.

The assessment shows existing producers of ethanol and biodiesel meet the greenhouse gas criterion.

For new biofuel producers, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the greenhouse gas benefit criterion. To do this, you can:

While the greenhouse gas requirement applies to all biofuels regardless of feedstock and technology, compliance with the broader environmental standard varies depending on the feedstock.

To determine whether emerging biofuels were likely to satisfy the sustainability criteria, DES commissioned the Greenhouse gas and sustainability footprints of emerging biofuels for Queensland report (PDF, 2.4MB).

This report examines 20 fuel scenarios, including 7 sources of ethanol, 2 sources of biodiesel and 11 sources of renewable diesel. The report findings are based on assumptions and data for feedstocks and processing technologies that are yet to be commercialised.

While the report results alone cannot be used to demonstrate compliance with the greenhouse gas criterion, the study can still benefit project participants by:

  1. Informing process change to improve biofuel environmental performance
  2. Assisting to obtain project finance for example, from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, where a life cycle assessment is required as part of an application.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB Standard) is one of several listed standards that you can choose to be certified against to meet the feedstock-specific sustainability criterion.

To help streamline the process for Queensland operators to obtain RSB certification, the report on Developing Compliance Indicators for Queensland, Australia (PDF, 749KB) is now available. The report helps auditors and operators identify which RSB criteria are already covered by national and Queensland law, making the process to obtain RSB certification easier, quicker and cheaper.

Email to confirm that your production process is within scope of an existing life cycle assessment. You may be asked to submit information on:

  • feedstock types, locations and sourcing
  • processing technologies, including co-products, energy source and use, inputs and outputs
  • and
  • the types of fuels produced.

Waste feedstocks

Biofuels produced from waste streams need to meet the greenhouse gas criterion only. No other sustainability standards apply. This encourages the production of sustainable biofuels from legally obtained waste streams.

Check the Waste feedstocks under the Liquid Fuel Supply Regulation 2016: Guideline (PDF, 334KB) for information and examples of feedstocks that are considered to be 'wastes' under the biofuels mandate and sustainability criteria for biofuels.

Existing or prospective biofuels producers with questions about the sustainability criteria can contact the department at

Assessing standards for equivalence

The Regulation provides industry with commonly used standards to demonstrate compliance with the general sustainability criterion. If you hold a valid certification for an alternative sustainability standard that manages environmental risks, you may apply for approval of the nominated standard as ‘equivalent to’ the relevant standard in the Regulation.

A nominated standard may only be approved if it provides sustainability measures that are at least equivalent to the sustainability standard.

For information on the application and decision-making processes, read the guideline for assessing standards for equivalence with the sustainability criteria for biofuels under the Liquid Fuel Supply Regulation 2016 (PDF, 269KB).

Applying for an assessment

  1. Complete the approved application form (DOCX, 123KB).
  2. Select and complete the relevant template for the side-by-side assessment.
    For example, a nominated standard covering feedstock derived from sugarcane will be compared against the Smartcane Best Management Practice Program.
  3. Send the completed documents to the contact listed in the approved application form.


General enquiries 13 QGOV (13 74 68)