7 September 2015

Project Solaris in South Africa earns RSB certification

Nicotine-free and GMO-free tobacco variety yielding significant amounts of sustainable oil that can be used as feedstock for bio jet fuel

Project Solaris in South Africa has earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification for the production of the energy rich tobacco crop ‘Solaris’ in the Limpopo region of South Africa.

Solaris is a nicotine-free and GMO-free crop variety that yields significant amounts of sustainable oil that can be used as feedstock for bio jet fuel.

Project Solaris has involved the RSB from the start to ensure the incorporation of the RSB Standards into the development and up-scaling protocols and to get the operations certified.

The project has brought economic and rural development to the Limpopo province in South Africa as well as a new regional bio jet fuel supply chain that is now RSB certified for environmental and social sustainability.

‘Project Solaris has demonstrated that it can deliver sustainability on the ground in line with the RSBs global standard. This is the result of a serious commitment to working with local stakeholders, rural development and reducing greenhouse gases while safeguarding the Limpopo’s unique natural environment,’ says RSB’s executive director, Rolf Hogan.

Joost van Lier, managing director of Sunchem South Africa, says developing a biofuel in South Africa’s ‘breadbasket’ has – as to be perhaps expected – drawn the company into the food vs fuel debate.

‘Having to undergo a systematic process of evaluating the social and environmental ramifications of this development as prescribed by the RSB has allowed us to feel confident in promoting Solaris, not only as a financially viable crop for farmers in the region, but also one that will not affect food security or lead to environmental degradation,’ he continues.

Managing director for Africa J. Miguel Santos from Boeing, a premium sponsor and promoter of the Solaris technology worldwide, says: ‘We applaud South African Airways and the South African Government for ensuring the sustainability of their emerging aviation biofuel supply chain as it is being developed. This milestone marks a very significant step forward in ensuring positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes for aviation and the planet.’

RSB is recognized by NGOs as the ‘most comprehensive and ambitious’ biomaterials sustainability certification program in the world.

RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.


About RSB

RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials) is an independent and global multistakeholder coalition which works to promote the sustainability of biomaterials. RSB’s user-friendly certification scheme is the strongest and most trusted of its kind. It verifies that biomaterials are ethical, sustainable and credibly- sourced. The certification is approved by RSB’s members, including leading NGOs and UN agencies. RSB members work across sectors to set global best practice for sustainable biomaterial production. Choosing RSB-certified biomaterials helps build trust and credibility in the bio-based sector and supports a healthy bio-based community.

About Sunchem / Project Solaris

Sunchem Holding is an industrial research and develop company operating in the sector of genetic and recombinant DNA applied to plant for energy purposes. Sunchem holds the exclusive rights for an international industrial patent named “Solaris Seed Tobacco”. Solaris plant can be used for the production of seed (oil and animal cake) and biomass (dry and wet). The oil can be used for biodiesel, electric generation, bio jet fuel and marine diesel. Biomass might have different market applications: biogas and Biomethane, electric generation, paper pulp industry, animal cake (because of nicotine free). The value added of Solaris are: not edible crop (but feed because of the animal cake), free from nicotine, free from GMOs, high sustainability criteria, and adapted to different climate conditions.

About SkyNRG

SkyNRG is the global market leader for sustainable jet fuel, having supplied more than 20 airlines worldwide. SkyNRG sources, blends and distributes sustainable jet fuel, guarantees sustainability throughout the supply chain and helps to co-fund the premium. At the same time, SkyNRG focuses on developing regional supply chains that offer a real sustainable and affordable alternative to fossil fuels.

About Boeing

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. To improve aviation’s environmental performance, Boeing collaborates with airlines, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders to develop sustainable aviation biofuel in the United States, Africa, Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Japan and Middle East.

About South African Airways (SAA)

South African Airways (SAA) is the leading carrier in Africa, serving 56 destinations, in partnership with SA Express, SA Airlink and its low cost carrier, Mango, within South Africa and across the continent, and nine intercontinental routes from its Johannesburg hub. It is a member of the largest international airline network, Star Alliance. SAA has committed to becoming the most environmentally sustainable airline group in the world and currently holds IATA Environmental Assessment Level 2 status-one of only 2 airlines in the world to achieve this. SAA is a member of the RSB.



Mr. Rolf Hogan, RSB Executive Director
Email: rolf.hogan@rsb.org
Phone: +41 22 796 4037

Sergio Tommasini, Sunchem CEO
Email: sergio.tommasini@sunchem.it
Phone: +39 348 3955337

Ian Cruickshank, Group Environmental Affairs Specialist, SAA
E-Mail: iancruickshank@flysaa.com

Source: Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, press release, 2015-09-01.


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