Markets working to support sustainable development

Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has developed a certification scheme for bioenergy and bio-based products usings RSB's set of standards and principles.

RSB Principles

  1. Biofuel operations shall follow all applicable laws and regulations
  2. Sustainable biofuel operations shall be planned, implemented, and continuously improved through an open, transparent, and consultative impact assessment and management process and an economic viability analysis
  3. Biofuels shall contribute to climate change mitigation by significantly reducing lifecycle GHG emissions as compared to fossil fuels
  4. Biofuel operations shall not violate human rights or labour rights, and shall promote decent work and the well-being of workers
  5. In regions of poverty, biofuel operations shall contribute to the social and economic development of local, rural and indigenous people and the communities
  6. Biofuel operations shall ensure the human right to adequate food and improve food security in food insecure regions
  7. Biofuel operations shall avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation values
  8. Biofuel operations shall implement practices that seek to reverse soil degradation and/or maintain soil health
  9. Biofuel operations shall maintain or enhance the quality and quantity of surface and ground water resources, and respect prior formal or customary water rights.
  10. Air pollution from biofuel operations shall be minimized along the supply chain
  11. The use of technologies in biofuel operations shall seek to maximize production efficiency and social and environmental performance, and minimize the risk of damages to the environment and people.
  12. Biofuel operations shall respect land rights and land use rights.

To achieve the certification, operators must be audited by independent third party certification bodies which are overseen by the independent accreditation body, Accreditation Services International. Once operators have achieved certification, they can communicate it to the public and shareholders to promote themeselves and their sustainability impact.

Market coverage: 

Currently (August 2014), the RSB have 107 members across several countries, including South America, Europe, Asia, North America and Africa.   Of these, there are 16 participating operators (two of which have expired certficiates) that have achieved the certification, including companies that produce cooking oil, sugarcane and animal by-products. 


Background information: 

The RSB is based at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. There are 7 ‘chambers’ which correspond to the types of members:

  • Farmers and growers of biofuel feedstock;
  • Industrial biofuel producers;
  • Retailers/blenders, the transportation industry & banks/investors;
  • Rights-based NGOs & trade unions;
  • Rural development, food security, smallholder farmer & indigenous ‘people’ / community-based civil society organisations; Environment, conservation & climate change and policy organisations;
  • Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), governments, standard-setters, specialist advisory agencies, certification agencies, and consultant experts.

The steering board is made up of 2 elected representatives from each Chamber and typically consists of one from the Global North and one from Global South.

Funding source: 

According to the latest annual review (2012 - 2013), the total revenue was CHF 1'383'132 (which is equal to around US$1,505,845). This money came from differen sources, including donations from:  

  • Packard Foundation
  • the Sustainable Biomass Consortium
  • SDC and NL Agency
  • Boeing
  • EPFL
  • EMPA

In addition, RSB also raises money through membership fees. 


Notable information: 

The RSB aims to be the “one-stop shop” for compliance with national and regional market regulations around the world. For example it is recognized by the European Union under its Renewable Energy Directive.